Protestant body slams intolerance after church service is interrupted in Lampung
A local village chief, Wawan, climbed over a fence to storm the Kemah Daud Christian Church during prayers. Local Church officials call on the authorities to treat the matter seriously. Just last month, Indonesia’s president slammed “violent” acts at a conference with district officials.
Lampung (AsiaNews) – The Synod of Protestant Churches of Indonesia (PGI)[i] spoke out after a Mass service was interrupted last Sunday in Rajabasa Jaya, a village in Lampung, a province in the southern part of Sumatra Island.
After climbing over a fence, Wawan, a local village chief, stormed inside the Kemah Daud Christian Church as the congregation was praying.
"The PGI has asked Indonesian authorities to take this incident seriously and hold all those responsible to account for their intolerant acts against our faithful," reads the statement released today by PGI secretary general Jacklevyn F. Manuputty.
“We urgently call on Indonesian police and administration not to ignore such intolerant actions, but to bring [the culprits] to justice," the statement added. “If this is ignored, any potential conflict between different religious groups could suddenly worsen.”
Last month, during a national conference in Sentul, Bogor (West Java), Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo criticised district leaders who fail to take these "violent" incidents seriously.
The Lampung office of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs said the incident was dealt with adequately and that the parties had a “good talk”.
However, the Lampung Interfaith Forum (FKUB)[ii] claims that the Church in question did not have the legal papers to build its place of worship.
“Its status is not that of a place of worship, but of a home," said Purna Irawan of the FKUB. In his view, if all legal requiremenats are met, then no more episodes of intolerance would occur.
Church's coordinator Parlin Sihombing said the church was established in 2009. “We got all the necessary signatures in 2014. All legal requirements were satisfied, but so far no official permit has been issued by the local government,” he explained.
[i] Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja di Indonesia.
[ii] Forum Kerukunan Umat Beragama.