Christian Groups to Charge Government With Discrimination Against Church-Building

August 10, 2004

Source: The Age/AAP

On August 10, 2004 Australian Associated Press reported, "Christian groups in mainly-Muslim Indonesia are planning legal action over laws barring them from building new churches. They plan to lodge a class action against Indonesia's government, accusing it of discrimination by continuing to enforce a decades-old decree governing construction of new places of worship. The decree, issued in 1969 by the then religious affairs ministry and the home affairs ministry, violated human and religious freedom principles, they said. 'The decree is contrary to Article 29 of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to choose their belief and perform their religious duties,' Indonesian Communion of Churches chairman Nathan Setiabudi told the Jakarta Post. The decree requires a religious community to gain approval from local government before building a new church or some other place of worship. The local authorities can then consult other local religious communities before approving the proposal, creating a tough hurdle for Christians in the world's most populous Muslim nation."