This week, local authorities denied a Protestant church’s building permit application in Cilegon city, Indonesia. Christian leaders in the area have been swift to condemn the decision, saying it goes against the Indonesian government’s professed desire for interreligious tolerance and religious freedom.
According to a statement released on September 9 by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), “This incident harms the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees equality of every citizen to adhere to a certain religion and to worship freely in accordance to their own religions.”
The opposition to the construction of the church came from a September 7 protest organized by a group of Muslims calling themselves the Committee of Local Wisdom Savior in Cilegon. They met with the mayor of Cilegon, Helldy Agustian, in his office and pressured him to refuse the building permit. A video of this incident went viral on social media.
The church seeking the building permit is called HKBP Maranatha. It was founded in 1999 and has 3,903 members but still does not have its own venue. According to a statement released by the church regarding the incident,
“The lack of a church building is a serious problem for us. The congregation’s spiritual formation cannot be carried out properly. We all believe that a place of worship is the central and strategic venue to educate worshippers properly and to grow the children’s faith.”
Please pray for lawmakers to overturn this decision and uphold religious freedom in Indonesia.