Indonesia: Protestants Stand Firm In Church Row


By Margaretha Krismi

Protestants being prevented from worshiping in their own church in Bogor, West Java, are digging in their heels after the House of Representative called on them to renegotiate in spite of a Supreme Court decision ruling in the Christians’ favor.

“We expect the ruling to be complied with. We do not want mayors that humiliate the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman,” a spokesman for the Christian Church in Indonesia Yasmin congregation said yesterday.

“We will keep fighting for our right, which is to hold services in our legal place of worship,” Bona Sigalingging said.

The dispute revolves around a banning order preventing the Yasmin congregation of the Christian Church in Indonesia from using their church because of alleged irregularities regarding their 2006 building application, which saw their permit revoked in 2010.

A later Supreme Court ruling backed by the Ombudsman said the congregation had the right to worship in the church, but this has been ignored by the local mayor.

The House of Representatives themselves looked to have defied the Supreme Court ruling yesterday by calling the opposing sides to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, home affairs minister Gamawan Fauzi said the government is willing to provide the Protestants with a temporary place to worship a short distance from their church, until the issue is settled. The government will also guarantee the Protestants’ safety.

“I am sure [the issue] can be settled within six months … only if all related parties are willing to do so,” he said.

However, the Protestants rejected the offer, maintaining that the Supreme Court ruling be complied with, and that the site proposed by the minister – a place called the Harmoni Hotel — was not appropriate.

“It’s where couples go for discreet liaisons. There is also a swimming pool. Church members will object to holding services in a place like that,” Sigalingging said.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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