They Cry in Silence Jan/Feb 2011
We have been hearing reports that the sprawling Muslim country of Indonesia is a model of pluralism and religious harmony. According to an article on www.america.gov by Louise Fenner, “Indonesia Building Bridges Between Religions,” an Interreligious Council formed last year in Jakarta “underscores that nation’s commitment to religious freedom and pluralism and provides a foundation for expanding interfaith cooperation.”
The Council’s opening ceremony was held in the Foreign Ministry’s historic Pancasila Mansion “where the founders of modern Indonesia first proclaimed the philosophical basis for the Indonesian state.” Fenner wrote that one official declared, “This is the place where the religious pluralism that’s enshrined in the constitution was made a key part of Indonesian identity and constitutional process.”
As in so many countries with large Muslim populations, the commitment to freedom of religion and worship enshrined in constitutional documents does not necessarily square with what takes place on the ground. Indonesia, housing the world’s largest Muslim population (197 million), is a prime example.
Compass Direct News recently called attention to the Indonesian-Muslim effort to halt “Christianization.” In West Java, Islamic organizations have declared their intent to create “paramilitary units in local mosques and a ‘mission center’ to oppose ‘ongoing attempts to convert people to Christianity.’” Muslim leaders contend, “If the Muslims in the city can unite, there will be no more story about us being openly insulted by other religions [Christianity].”
On August 17 Indonesia celebrated its 65th Independence Day with a growing sense of distrust in the government’s ability to stop radical Islamics from attacking churches, reported Compass Direct. Earlier that month, in a suburb of Jakarta, more than 300 members of the extremist Islamic People’s Forum and Islamic Defenders Front broke through a police barricade on a Sunday and injured at least a dozen people worshiping in a field, the news agency said. This particular church has faced attacks since November 2000 when it was constructing a church building.
The Jakarta Post told Compass that churches were being attacked every week, but the news media avoided coverage because it is an “emotional and controversial issue.” The Post spokesman said, “You also risk being accused of taking sides when you report on religious conflicts.”
Compass said Dr. Musda Mulia, a Muslim research professor at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, “told Compass all Indonesians have a right to freedom of faith. It seems the government doesn’t want to deal with the radicals. Persecution of Christians and other minorities has been my concern for many years. But the government is very weak.”
Violence by Islamist groups is increasing, and the determination to destroy pluralism is strengthening. Recently a terror plot was discovered against the president. The plot was part of a comprehensive plan to target not only Westerners but also state officials deemed “symbols of secularism.” One of the stated aims, Compass reported, “was to ‘accelerate the transformation of the country’s democratic system into one controlled by Islamic [Sharia] law.’”
In today’s terror war against Christians, our highest priority is prayer. We can ill afford to fail our Lord or our brethren at this most decisive time in our lives.