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Church association laments forced attempt to dismiss congregation

Tempo - February 20, 2023

M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – The Indonesian Churches Association ("PGI") condemned the alleged attempt to forcefully stop religious worship at Gereja Kristen Kemah Daud in Rajabasa Jaya sub-district, Rajabasa district, Bandar Lampung.

PGI demanded the government and legal authorities to immediately take action against the incident. "PGI demanded the government and security officials to not ignore similar cases to repeat without firm and transparent legal consequences," said PGI General Secretary Jacklevyn F. Manuputty in a press release on Monday, February 20, 2023.

Jack said that the country's authority will fade if such an incidence of intolerance continues to occur. Jack added that public trust in the government will deteriorate.

According to Jack, the most dangerous effect of ignorance is the accumulation of social friction on the grassroots level that can result in conflict. "At any time, [social friction] can ignite into an open conflict," Jack said.

Previously, the attempt to forcefully dismiss religious worship at Gereja Kristen Kemah Daud occurred on Sunday, February 19, 2023. A man said to be the local neighborhood leader entered the church premises by jumping the church's fence.

The man allegedly attempted to dismiss the church service by getting up to the podium. A video of the incident went viral on social media.

Jack said that the action damaged the mandate of the 1945 Constitution, which guarantee religious freedom of Indonesian citizens. Jack added that such action contradicts President Joko Widodo's notion, which criticized the restriction on houses of worship construction in several regions.

Jack explained that the PGI fully understands that there are rules that must be adhered to in constructing houses of worship. Nevertheless, Jack argued that an incomplete permit should not be used as a reason to forcefully dismiss people from practicing their worship.

Despite its strong resistance against the event, Jack said that PGI continues to call on members of the church congregation to maintain their nationalism, and added that such problem must be resolved with love. "PGI encouraged [the congregation] to remain strong, and keep their faith," Jack said.

The Lampung Province Regional Office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs claimed that it has carried out steps to resolve the issue. Chief of the Lampung Ministry of Religious Affairs Regional Office Puji Raharjo, said that the office has organized a dialogue between elements of the public, the police, and local authorities to find a solution to the incident.

Puji however, refused to provide details concerning the results of the dialogue. "We sit together to have a discussion," Puji said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1693751/church-association-laments-forced-attempt-to-dismiss-congregatio