Indonesia: Concern about freedom of religion

Several hundred women from the Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia (GKPI) gathered at a church in Medan City, North Sumatra, on 19 August 2019 to hear about ways of implementing the Lutheran World Federation's (LWF) Gender Justice Policy in their own local context. Photo: GKPI
Several hundred women from the Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia (GKPI) gathered at a church in Medan City, North Sumatra, on 19 August 2019 to hear about ways of implementing the Lutheran World Federation's (LWF) Gender Justice Policy in their own local context. Photo: GKPI

LWF and WCRC call on Indonesian president to better protect Christian communities

(LWI) - Following the recent reports about attacks on churches and Christian communities in Indonesia, the General Secretaries of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) have urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to better protect Christian communities in the country.

Worshipping together, and in line with current regulations on COVID-19 prevention, should be available to all faiths in Indonesia, wrote LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge and WCRC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson in a letter to the President Widodo.

Disturbing reports of violence

“In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, people and communities are facing significant challenges for which spiritual guidance and nourishment is necessary,” the two General Secretaries said.

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, people and communities are facing significant challenges for which spiritual guidance and nourishment is necessary.
General Secretaries of LWF and WCC

"We have been in communication with our member churches in Indonesia, who have confirmed the struggles they are facing, including the recent attacks against their houses of worship and their ability to offer online worship.” They refer to “deeply disturbing” reports of church destruction and demolition as well as restrictions on offering online or alternative worship arrangements specifically aimed at Christian churches.

Religious freedom a human right

In the joint-letter, which follows earlier letters issued by the Indonesia Council of Churches (PGI) and the LWF National Committee in Indonesia (KNLWF), the LWF and WCRC General Secretaries call upon the Indonesian president to ensure that churches are able to worship in a safe way, that also conforms with public health guidance to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"This is an important right that is enshrined in International Human Rights Law and is rooted in justice.” they write. “Just as we have continued to ask governments all over the world to ensure that this right is fully enjoyed by all citizens, we urge you to take decisive steps to address any policies, laws, and actions that prevent minority religions in Indonesia from exercising their right to practice their religion.”

LWF in Indonesia has 13 member churches, the majority of them located on Sumatra. WCRC and LWF together represent more than 200 million Christians in 100 countries.

LWF/C. Kästner