Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Church forced to close by mob

More love from the Religion of Peace, courtesy of WorldNet Daily.

Hundreds of radical Muslims who converged on a church filled with Christian worshippers in West Java on March 26, causing distress to many with their hostile demonstration, were convinced to disband only after police were called and the pastor of nine years agreed to close the church and cease all its Christian activities, reports the Voice of the Martyrs, a leading monitor of Christian persecution.

According to the report, a mob numbering around 200 came to the Church of Pentecost in Gunung Putri, Indonesia, during the Sunday morning service to protest the property being "misused" as a church building. The five-hour demonstration became so hostile, some of the women among the 190 congregants began crying hysterically.

Pastor Daniel Fekky was told by representatives of the Muslim mob, in a meeting arranged by police, the church would have to be closed based on a pending revision of the 1969 Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) which dealt with church buildings and government approval. The pastor was able to get the mob to leave only by agreeing to shut the doors to his church.

The revision, announced by the Religious Affairs Minister and the Home Minister, will need the signature of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before coming into effect.

So if it’s not in effect, why didn’t the police disperse the mob and let the church continue with their apparently lawful activities. (Don't try and come up with an answer - rhetorical question.)

The revised regulations set three conditions before a church building can be built or a congregation legally established:

  • Proof of at least 90 existing members with official ID cards

  • Signatures from 60 neighbors of different faiths approving of the establishment of the new Christian congregation

  • Approval from local authorities
Indonesian Christians say the new law will make it more difficult to open new churches, especially in rural, predominantly Muslim areas. They also point to already-established churches which have tried for years to get government approval, without success.

“The new law will make it more difficult to open new churches.” Gee, you think? It doesn’t sound like the mob above was just demanding their chance to sign a permission slip, and the local authorities are obviously going to jump on the chance to showcase their ecumenical spirit.

Article 29(b) of the Indonesian constitution guarantees Indonesian citizens the freedom to choose their own religion and to worship according to the dictates of that religion.

Our constitution guarantees the same thing. There are plenty of people here (I’ve met some of them) who would be happy to give ours the same interpretation as the Indonesians seem to be giving theirs. It’s already happening in Canada.

Pastor Daniel has led his church's services for nine years, but the residents of Gunung Putri and the local government did not protest his ministry until a year ago.

"If this church is closed down, where can my congregants and their children worship the Lord?" said the pastor.

Perhaps we should be purchasing catacomb-digging machines for the mission field. The Church has been underground before, both figuratively and literally. During Holy Week, let's remember to pray for all those brothers and sisters around the world who quite literally profess the faith at the risk of their lives.