Muslim objections prompted the cancellation of an Indonesian prayer service meant to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation last week. The act renewed concerns over deteriorating tolerance in the nation once known for religious freedom.
The Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia planned an event at Kridosono Stadium in Yogyakarta, Java, for Oct. 25 but learned on Oct. 12 that stadium officials had canceled their rental agreement.
UCA News reported the Forum Ukhuwah Islamiyah (FUI), an arm of Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, asked stadium officials to prevent the gathering, claiming it was designed to convert Muslims and had “potential to become an arena of apostasy under the guise of mass healing.”
FUI threatened to disrupt the event. Local police denied that hardline Muslim pressure forced the cancellation, saying the church did not have a permit.
In a statement, the church rejected both claims, saying it followed all proper procedures to get permission and the Rev. Stephen Tong never performed physical healings.
The statement criticized favoritism shown to Islamists, saying, “We are very concerned of the partiality shown toward intolerant groups that have continued to use ‘security’ and ‘peace’ as the basis of their intolerance.”
Muslim scholar Achmad Nurcholish told UCA News, “It's a sign that in our society it is difficult to accept people of different beliefs.”
He warned, “acts of intolerance will continue unless the government pays serious attention to it.”
The church held other events celebrating the anniversary of the Refomation in Indonesia without incident.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 3, 2017