CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Church Witnessing Rapid Growth in Indonesia in Backdrop of Oppression by Extremists and State

Indonesia Church
(Photo : Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie146)/Wikimedia/CC) Indonesian Church is experiencing growth despite persecution by extremists and state officials.

Christianity in Indonesia is on the rise despite persecution by the radicals and the state, the World Watch Monitor reported.

Extremists in the province of Aceh Singkil clashed with Christians and tore down churches about a year ago. The police also razed other churches after they received complaints from locals that the churches were unlicensed.

"The perpetrators live in the neighbourhood and they always watch my church members' activities," a resident told WWM.

However, the church members of six of the 11 demolished worship houses continue to meet in tents despite odd conditions.

"[Rain] has happened many times, but we still continue the service. Even if the tents are leaking and rainwater or mud is splashing in from the outside, no-one ever leaves the service!" another member said.

Members from rest of the torn-down churches have joined other churches.

Despite the oppression, the number of people in the churches are increasing. One of the churches that was razed is now meeting in tents at two locations about 15 miles apart to accommodate more members.

Obtaining licenses for churches has become a herculean task for the believers who are required to get 60 signatures from people of another faith in addition to receiving permit from the state officials in order to build a church. The process of registration of unlicensed churches is observed to be very slow given the various requirements adding to the complexity of the procedure.

The size of the plot for the church land also has regulations which limits the area allotted for the house of worship. According to the rules, the size of the church must be proportional to the number of church members with local identity cards multiplied by 0.8 meters. Those who are from outside the region but have local identity cards will not be allowed to be included in the count.

Church leaders say that the likelihood of getting a license for the new churches has diminished further because of upcoming elections in February 2017 for which the candidates have started registration. With elections in sight, they may not grant licenses for the churches in order to not upset the local Muslim voters in Aceh province.

Tags Indonesia Christian persecution, Aceh Singkil, Indonesia church

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