Religious Affairs Minister Issuing Protection Bill for Indonesia’s Religions

ICC NOTE: the Indonesian parliament is discussing the passage of a religious protections bill which would focus on five main points. One of which is the regulation of construction on houses of worship. This has been a focal point for religious violence in the country as Christian congregations have worked tirelessly to garner the required 60 non-Christian signatures from their communities for approval.

Even then, as is the case for the ongoing HKBP and GKI churches, a church can have the necessary paperwork and still see their doors shut due to radical Muslim intimidation.

A bill such as this will be something to monitor as there is the hope it can provide some semblance of peace among faiths, but there is also the fear it could regulate religion too much.

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Jakarta, Indonesia(Tempo)- Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said that he will issue a draft bill on religious protection. “This is the mission of the Religious Affairs Ministry to improve the quality of religious people,” said Lukman on Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

Lukman said that currently, discussion about the bill will be focused on gathering aspirations from various stakeholders, including religious leaders, religious councils, academics and representatives from the press.

“There are various inputs and they are often counter each other, but we still have to find a middle ground,” said Lukman. Lukman said that there are five issues that need to be addressed regarding protection of religious believers.

The first issue is the country’s stance on religions believers outside the six religions regulated under prevailing regulations.

The second issue, according to the Minister, would be regulating religious teachings broadcasting. “If it’s not regulated, it could trigger conflicts,” Lukman said.

The third point is about the construction of houses of worship. According to Lukman, there needs to be a regulation that can be used as a common reference on how to establish houses of worship in aplural society.

The fourth point is about religious understanding. Lukman said that deviant religious beliefs must be addressed, including who has the authority to decide whether those beliefs are deviant or not.”Which agency has the authority to make that decision and what is the mechanism,”said Lukman.

The fifth point is strengthening the forum between religious groups by forming religious councils in every province and regency.

In relation to regulating beliefs other than what has been regulated in prevailing laws, Minister Lukman said the issue is still being discussed. “On one side, there is a desire to acknowledge [beliefs] as religions, but some of them don’t want to be called as a religion,” said Lukman.

Pray for Divine intervention concerning this situation

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