Bethel Church, Bandung

Feb 12th, 2007, in News, by

A Christian group in Bandung is forced to stop services.

Dozens of people in the Warung Satangkal area of Majalaya, Bandung, claiming to belong to a group called the Anti-Apostasy Movement of the Indonesian Ulema Congregation Forum, demonstrated in front of a house belonging to a Christian family on the 11th, says the Jakarta Post, demanding that it no longer be used for religious services.

Those attending the church services voluntarily left the house and no violence occurred.

Omay Komarudin, head of the Warung Satangkal neighbourhood unit, said the rally was held because local residents were bothered by the religious services being held once a week in the house, for the last three years. What was worse, said Omay, the house-church was near a mosque.

Omay said that local people had often asked the house's owner to stop the services, and they had eventually sent a letter to the management of the Majalaya chapter of the Indonesian Bethel Church.

But our letter was not heeded. We, as a Muslim majority here, are greatly disturbed. On Saturday night (10th), one of their representatives visited my house, and he was drunk and criticized our protest letter.

Some people reportedly got angry over this incident and they gathered at 7 a.m. on the 11th in front of the house of Ayun Sobandi, who is the representative of the church. Alner, another church representative, decided to stop the church service after seeing the mob.

We're aware that this church has no permit so I've taken the initiative to stop it and disperse. It's really difficult to process licenses for the construction of churches, especially permits from nearby figures and other local noted figures (as required by the existing law).

Alner signed a statement, and promised not to hold religious activities in the house until a license was issued by the Religious Affairs Ministry. Alner said around 100 churchgoers in Majalaya routinely worshipped at Ayun's house. Three families in the vicinity became members of the church communion, while others came from surrounding areas in Majalaya.

Alner said they converted the house into a church because they did not have a church which was free from disturbances.

We haven't had a license, but we frequently consult with local officials, including the police. And Mr Ayun is a local boy who has lived here since 1986.


79 Comments on “Bethel Church, Bandung”

  1. avatar Oigal says:

    Another blow for freedom and tolerance in Indonesia. Three cheers for the brave mob rule!

    “rally was held because local residents were bothered by the religious services being held once a week in the house, for the last three years. What was worse, said Omay, the house-church was near a mosque.”

    and I bet they used loudspeakers 5 times a day…oh oops.

    I don’t understand why it is so hard just to let people worship who, what they want and in the way they want.

  2. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Again and again!!
    Where are you true Moslems?

  3. avatar Colson says:

    So much for tolerance. But there’s comfort in the logic – Allah rules.

  4. avatar Susanto says:

    Evangelical churches like these and Witnesses of Jehova are even a plague in other western Christian countries.

    So what about in Muslim countries like Indonesia.

    People think, and wake up.

  5. avatar Ali says:

    I think the key point here is that the church is “illegal” – i.e. has no permit. I take it that the mob demonstrated but did not do anything to harm the property or the worshipers, so the mob is a step closer to being good citizens.

    I do agree however, that tolerance is lacking. Other than parking issue, I doubt a small church can cause disturbance to the area. Certainly nothing close to 5 times a day adzan, and sahur calls at wee hours during the month of ramadhan.

  6. avatar Susanto says:

    Ali what you wrote is also true, “i.e. has no permit…”

    It’s also the same in Europe.

  7. avatar Julita says:

    Very, very sad indeed and here a country based on another Faith, they can pray wherever they want even the school provide a praying room. Yes, 5 times with the loudspeaker is of course a no.

  8. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Ali:
    “I think the key point here is that the church is “illegal” – i.e. has no permit.”
    Are you sure?
    Read this:
    “What was worse, said Omay, the house-church was near a mosque.”
    and this:
    “But our letter was not heeded. We, as a Muslim majority here, are greatly disturbed.”

    And tell me: would they get any permit to build a church?

  9. avatar sgn says:

    Just wanted to share with you how Christians in Singapore deal with not enough churh (= building) for them to worship.

    The facts:
    1. The number of Christians in Singapore is increasing.
    2. Singapore is a small country where land space is limited.
    3. Permission to build a church (= building) is not difficult, but it costs a lot on buying lands and to build (it will cost at least S$10 mio).

    Work-around:
    – Rent a cinema (it costs S$2000 – S$3000 for each service).

    Win-win situation:
    1. The owners of cinema gets additional revenue. They could optimize the usage of their cinemas, especially during low peak time.
    2. The management of a church is seeing more non-Christian attendees joining. The new comers said they are more comfortable to enter a cinema to getting know about Christianity instead of enter a ‘conventional’ church.

    sgn

  10. avatar Miss Indo 07 says:

    Why do illegal churches exist? Because it’s so uneasy to build the legal ones in Indo.

    Susanto:

    Evangelical churches like these and Witnesses of Jehova are even a plague in other western Christian countries.

    Whatever you think about it, it’s still others’ belief.
    Well I’ve heard some people said negative things about the witnesses of Jehovah, I just think, even though I don’t believe in it, but it’s humans right to believe whatever they want to believe, as long as they don’t disturb other people.
    And what I mean with disturb is, force others to follow what they believe, force others to do what they do, ban others to do this and that based on their belief, like FPI, ugh hate them so much!

    I also have some Christian friends who always attack others, because we are not as religious as him/her, and they always think that I’m “rusak”, duhh, that’s so annoying.
    Why can’t people just do whatever they believe is true and let others do waht they believe is true, without hurting and disturbing each other.
    Trust me it’s gonna be so peaceful and beautiful.

  11. avatar 1ndra says:

    Sometimes in majority areas most minority treated badly, not just in Islam with Christian and vice versa.

  12. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    As a Christian I am not too surprised about this, and I’m not even angered by it. Jesus said we will be persecuted for our faith. It happened in the early church. It’s happening now still.

    Also, knowing the Bethel Church I highly doubt that the “drunk person” was a real representative of the church.

    I’m however, rather tickled by some of the comments posted here that are in the defensive mode:

    i.e: “but church has no permits”, “but majorities always treat minorities bad”.

    πŸ˜€

  13. avatar 1ndra says:

    The last comment you quote might be mine. πŸ˜€
    But I didn’t write, always, but most. Most always.

    You could see almost everywhere, not just here in Indonesia.

  14. avatar Zorobabel says:

    Does anyone take these vigilantes seriously anymore? The Indonesian government has made it intentionally prohibitive for Christians to build churches in Muslim-majority areas, while the same laws are not enacted in Christian-majority areas excluding Papua. According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human has the right to personal religious belief and the right to worship publicly. These are rights that are being denied to millions of Indonesians. Should it come as a surprise that a man named Ali supports mob rule and the systematic persecution of peoples based on their religious beliefs?

  15. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    Work-around:
    – Rent a cinema

    Its actually done here in Jakarta. If you go to some of the malls in the morning on Sunday the 21 cinemas are being used as a church.

  16. avatar 1ndra says:

    I feel sorry for my Christiany friends for this matter.
    Based on laws and sure the first sila “Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa’ and UUD’45 pasal 29 (If I’m not wrong) everyone have rights to worship freely and comfortable, you should take your voices seriously to get your worship rights.
    Here, in my area, we let each religion makes their worship comfortably.
    In our house, we always do tadarus AlQuran each week with our Moslem neighbours and vice versa, my right in front Christian neighbour do their worship comfortably with their ‘outsider’ friends (Christian is minority here).
    If tolerance is raised highly, we could live together in peace and harmony.

  17. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi 1ndra,

    I think we should hear both side of the stories. Even though I don’t like the action of preventing others expressing their religious beliefs, we need to be sure that the people expressing their religious beliefs are doing their actions discretely. I have seen some people expressing their religious beliefs as if no one in looking, which can make others being uncomfortable.

    So again tolerance should be the key word here.

  18. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    Just a thought on your comment Dimp. Prayer calls 5 times a day over the loudspeaker is anything but discrete, but has it ever been considered to be making other people uncomfortable, or is it just accepted in the name of “majority rule”?

  19. avatar Hassan says:

    In Greece, the local Muslim community had waited 15 years to build a mosque, and the Greece authorities had turned down each and every proposals they placed forth. You know what the reason? The authorities said that the mosque could upset the dominant Christians, and that foreigners could mistakenly think that Greece is an Islamic country. Talk about lame.

    The moral story is, minorities have the same fate anywhere in the world (save a few), Indonesia was not the worst in term of religious tolerance. That said, we must improve on that, but we can’t do it overnight. The U.S. needed decades to wash away the racism that had plagued their white communities in the early 20th century, and racism is a far worse form of intolerance. Perhaps Indonesian Muslims just needed time.

    In the meantime, I can only suggest to our non-Muslim friends in Indonesia to do things by the book, following the rules no matter how difficult it may be. Why? Because being a minority is difficult enough, so don’t make it any worse. Secondly, the last thing we need is more religious unrest in Indonesia. I don’t think it worth taking that risk simply over building a new house of worship. πŸ™‚

    BTW, we can’t blame the government, either. Their hands are tied, and they’re in a ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ situation.

    Peace.

  20. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Btw,
    anyone knows, if the cathedrals in Jakarta and in Bandung have a license or permission?
    πŸ™‚
    “Perhaps Indonesian Muslims just needed time.”
    How long?
    Hassan, the government in Indonesia seems to be “tolerant”. They tolerate the anarchy done by some “Moslem” groups.
    Their hands are tied? Would you explain it?

  21. avatar Hassan says:

    Well, they can’t risk more religious unrest if the public will then perceive them of being anti-Islam. That might work in Europe or some Western countries, but not in the worlds’ largest Muslim dominated country. Think about it.

    Anyway, that would be bad publicity for SBY, and we all knew how SBY is, “tebar pesona” all the time.

    “How long?”

    Who knows? We better ask an expert on Sociology, Tom. It will take a long and thorough study to determine that.

  22. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Grace and Mercy,

    Just a thought on your comment Dimp. Prayer calls 5 times a day over the loudspeaker is anything but discrete, but has it ever been considered to be making other people uncomfortable, or is it just accepted in the name of “majority rule”?

    It is a bit uncomfortable, but as I said we need tolerance, if we show tolerance on both sides then this “uncomfortable” calling can be eliminated, I think there should be a government ruling regarding how many loudspeakers (good ones) are allowed in one area and they probably need to be coordinated so they started at the same time and not competing between one and another.

    As majority of the Indonesians are Moslems then it is normal to have prayer calls over the loudspeakers, the same in a country with majority of Christians where you can hear church bells ringing on Sundays.

  23. avatar Ihaknt says:

    the same in a country with majority of Christians where you can hear church bells ringing on Sundays.

    Aah…the beautiful sound of Rome.

  24. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    I think there should be a government ruling regarding how many loudspeakers (good ones) are allowed in one area and they probably need to be coordinated so they started at the same time and not competing between one and another.

    Hahaha… try passing that to the local residents in my RT; and you’re right they do seem to compete with one another, which makes me wonder if their density/ sq km is high and their numbers many, why the need for the loudest PA system (?)

    I know that in countries where laws are the rule of the land, there are noise ordinance regulations where even the sound considered sacred have to meet these regulations.

  25. avatar sgn says:

    the same in a country with majority of Christians where you can hear church bells ringing on Sundays.

    Aah”Β¦the beautiful sound of Rome.

    Christian is not majority in Singapore (Budhist is, i.e. 42%).
    On Sunday, you can hear the bell from one of the oldest church. I think that’s a tradition, because no other churches ring their bells (maybe they don’t have bells).

    In USA (where I am visiting now), no bells ring on Sunday. Neither from the biggest church (3000 attendees) in town I visited last Sunday.

    sgn

  26. avatar Orgindo says:

    If those are their only reasons (legality), I wonder why there are many mosques that don’t have to obtain permit to build the mosque or even to go down to the road and ask for donation (there are a lot of stop that ask for donation on the way from Medan to outer city, i dont know if the same things also happen on the other places).

    Even if the church obtain permit, if the mentality of the local people is unchanged, I doubt that this kind of hypocrisy will cease any time soon.

    Most people are tolerant with those 5 times loudspeaker things, I guess, it also wakes me up, although I still want to sleep, that is a great tolerant already. Cant imagine if Christian broadcast their morning sermon through the speaker every Sunday morning, or maybe Buddhist chant through the speaker. Is that considered legal?

  27. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Orgindo, of course not. Only Muslim related activity is legal. Including the vandalism performed by FPI, they’re all legal cos they’re defending Islam. We must be tolerant to the Muslim people but Muslim people reserve the rights to not return the favor. So please please tolerate the Muslim cos they are the most flawless kind of human race.

  28. avatar sgn says:

    I love IHnAKnT.

    πŸ™‚

  29. avatar 1ndra says:

    Hahaha”Β¦ try passing that to the local residents in my RT; and you’re right they do seem to compete with one another, which makes me wonder if their density/ sq km is high and their numbers many, why the need for the loudest PA system (?)

    Most people are tolerant with those 5 times loudspeaker things, I guess, it also wakes me up, although I still want to sleep, that is a great tolerant already. Cant imagine if Christian broadcast their morning sermon through the speaker every Sunday morning, or maybe Buddhist chant through the speaker. Is that considered legal?

    Because that was Adzan, a call for shalat, and shalat is wajib and sinned if failed to do that. If the Adzan is ‘muted’ and no one hear, its a sin too.

  30. avatar Nuraini Campbell says:

    Because that was Adzan, a call for shalat, and shalat is wajib and sinned if failed to do that. If the Adzan is ‘muted’ and no one hear, its a sin too.

    Really? Then is it okay to have the churches toll their bells every hour like they used to do in Europe centuries ago?

    I live in the U.S where the Christians are the majority, but we have mosques and are tolerant to Muslim women who choose to wear jilbab to work. I have Muslim friends who are permittted to pray during working hours.

    I wish it was the same in Indonesia.

    Salam,

    Nuraini

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