When Religious Freedom Hangs By A Thread

You all must’ve heard about Terry Jones by now, right? If not maybe you need to turn on the news once in awhile.

Myself, I am a Christian, a born again Christian who is still in the work of progress by His grace but my skin crawls when I heard about this Pastor radical threats to burn the Quran.


Simple…because of the aftermath will only affects us Christians who happens to be minorities in other countries, such as Indonesia. Just so you know, it is hard enough being minority in a country with the highest Muslim population in the world. So when hard-liners like Terry Jones started something so controversial like that, he is throwing us other Christians under the bus. Literally!

On September 12, 2010, two pastors from a local church here are being attacked by unknown people, then a day (or two later) the local Chief of Police bluntly said that the attacks have no religious indications. Mighty quick huh? Well, later they found out those attackers are members of the famous FPI (Islamic Front Defender). The attack leaves one pastor in critical condition. We shall see if this case will ever fully be solved or just be shoved under the rugs like so many other cases.

This is not the first time that said church has been under attack. In early August, mobs of FPI people threw rocks, beaten the church’s congregations on that bloody Sunday.

(Stop Church Ilegal Service Now Or Community Will Take Action)

Apparently, some group has been in ‘battle’ for months trying to kick the church out of the area. When pushed comes to shoved, two innocent pastors fell victim of stabbing and angered so many Indonesians and raised the question “Whatever happen to freedom of religion in this country?”.

Yes, politically, it is well documented on Indonesian laws that every citizen is protected to practice their religions such as mentioned on the UUD (Indonesian Constitution) article 29 already guarantee such matter:

Negara menjamin kemerdekaan tiap-tiap penduduk untuk memeluk agamanya masingmasing dan untuk beribadat menurut agamanya dan kepercayaannya itu.

(The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief)

Now, are these just empty words that holds no meaning whatsoever in today’s life in Indonesia?

How can one really believe in that Constitution anymore when in reality, there are only 6 acknowledged religions here: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Kong Hu Chu. If your religion fell outside of these six then too bad, you’re pretty much screwed, my friend!

It wasn’t until the tragic attacks of those two pastors that I learned that just to build a church here one must obtain the ‘a-okay’ from the local communities surrounding where the church will be build. I’m fully aware that the government approval (building permits, etc) to build one is hard enough that many churches in Indonesia are forced to have their services within malls, hotels, or other buildings but this community approval sounds so absurd I cannot believe it at first but that’s the reality of it.

This makes me wonder, when people build Mosques here, do they ever ask the community approval first? No! There are literally millions of Mosques in this town alone.

Being a minority in this country, I’m very much well aware of all the injustices people of my faith have to endure and this has been going on for years and I am so glad to see more and more people are speaking up these days, like what Miss Desi Anwar so brilliantly written for a newspaper here.

So two days ago when I saw a news article about our beloved Vice President speech at the ASEAN Summit in New York City, where he calls on the world to stop Islam phobia, my jaws fell.

I mean really? Seriously?

What about Christian phobia that so many hardcore Muslim people in Indonesia are projecting? What about these unsolved cases of injustice involving Christians or other minorities, Mr. Vice President? Does that even matter at all? Everyone got so hyped up about Terry Jones’ plans – which by the way I despise because it goes against my belief of what the Lord preach – that even our president had to voice his objections while Christians in his own country are being stoned and beaten.

Why don’t you ban the FPI and other hardcore groups that clearly have been breaking the laws for years by taking them into their own holy hands?! Why is our Indonesian government so afraid to disband this one group of thugs? Who thinks that all Christians are evil and all pastors or priests are just out to shove our belief in someone else’ throats?

Although I still dream of a better future for this nation, it deeply saddens me to see our faith as minorities.

If only there are more people like Irshad Manji in this world, especially in Indonesia then maybe religious tolerance would be on a higher scale here.

For us Christians, let me leave you with this powerful sermon:




Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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  1. Emmy
    September 27, 2010 / 4:34 pm

    I feel you yen and Thanks for writing this article.
    and Peace to the world !!!

    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 11:58 am

      Thanks Em! 🙂

  2. Tiara G
    September 27, 2010 / 5:52 pm

    I feel your pain. This coutry is getting crazier and more radical by the minute. It is sad and the government isn’t doing anything to fix it.

    I live near a mosque (it’s not even THAT close) an every AM I wake up before 5 due to the SUPER LOUDNESS of the calling of the prayer. Now..can you imagine if a church dares to put a speaker and call Christians to pray every Sunday?? Ppl would go craazzyy. What makes it okay for mosques to do so yet not other praying establishments???

    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 12:02 pm

      I really am afraid if the government doesn’t step up, Indonesia will end up being a radical country run by only one religion.

      From what I know (thanks to having an aunt who have a master on Theology) the tradition of this ‘loudness’ with the speakers at the mosque is a middle east tradition. Back then, many years ago where distances from one house to another was quite far, the speakers act as a reminder for call of prayers, so geographically that makes sense. Not so much for Jakarta with its congested populations but it’s an old practice and yes it gets quite annoying lol

  3. September 27, 2010 / 8:36 pm

    Wow. Makes me kinda glad to be where I am I suppose. It’s good you are speaking out about this.
    alicia recently posted..I am but a work in progressMy Profile

    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:39 pm

      I’m glad more and more people are speaking out too Lish, it is getting out of hands.

  4. September 27, 2010 / 9:49 pm

    Kudos to you for taking on such difficult topic – and I agree, it’s sad the government is doing more to fix so many of these pressing issues…
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    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:41 pm

      Thanks, Heather. I can only hope that our government would stop being so one sided but it is hard when one group have their own interests in the government.

  5. September 28, 2010 / 12:20 am

    Religious extremism and intolerance of any form, in my opinion, is unacceptable. It’s unfortunate, but in most nations, it is the minority religions that are left to “fend for themselves” without the support of the government. It’s a shame and tragic! Good for you for tackling this topic!

    I am new to your blog, but I love your writings! I will be back soon!
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    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:43 pm

      I’m with you, 100% anything that falls into extremist lines are a big turned off for me. A lot of people doesn’t understand how it feels to be minorities unless their religion falls into that category. I still hope (and pray) that somewhere down the line our government would do a better job than this.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here too, Jessica and your kind words 🙂

  6. September 28, 2010 / 1:14 am

    Understood perfectly. That’s why I’m a devoted non-believer now. I will think for myself, thank you very much 🙂 People are just abusing religions left and right. I fear that Indonesia is going to be a secular country soo. Heck, it’s been like this for years. The Indonesian government is definitely not practicing UUD and Pancasila. Why? Because the majority dictates them.
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    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:54 pm

      Agree with you on people abusing religions and using it to justifies their own selfish acts. UUD and Pancasila means nothing but those things we as school kids had to memorize in school. Really really sad!

  7. September 28, 2010 / 4:24 am

    Hi…..people keep peace
    You are not God

    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:55 pm

      Hi Reny, did you read what I wrote carefully? Did you read all the comments? No one here profess they are God so I would advise you to read before making such a statement.

      • Julinda
        September 28, 2010 / 6:34 pm

        Yes, I didn’t read anyone here claimed that they are God. The example of the one that plays God is the FPI who judges and condemns others coz they think they are the most holy, who attack others in the name of religion and their faith (with all their excuses to act violently). One more thing, freedom of practicing our religions or expressing our thoughts doesn’t mean we don’t keep the peace. BTW, Christians in Indonesia have been intimidated to keep silent of all the discriminations and attacks against them for ages and we all know that.

        • Maureen
          October 2, 2010 / 6:30 pm

          I have to agree with you Julinda. Clearly there are forces in Indonesia that thinks they are the most holy and thinks of everyone else who is not in their religion as sinner who deserves to be killed. Discrimination, crimes and injustice towards minority religions in Indonesia has been going on for many many years and it’s no longer a secret. Maybe just maybe someday down the road, our government will act and sees that minorities will have justice, freedom that they deserves. Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    • Maureen
      September 28, 2010 / 2:55 pm

      Awww thank you.

  8. September 29, 2010 / 1:16 am

    What a great article! I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be in a minority religious group, but I completely agree with your comments about Terry Jones. The irony is that it’s Islamic extremists who attacked NYC, so unfortunately, people have put a blanket statement over all Muslims, which has resulted in Terry Jones the nut-job being an unwanted spokesperson for all Christians which has put a blanket statement over all of us. God bless you!
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    • Maureen
      October 2, 2010 / 6:34 pm

      Thanks Jeniffer, in all fairness not all Muslims are extremist and full of violence. I have many good and dear friends that are Muslims and they are some of the nicest people. It’s the stereotype that causing the bad image, just the way these hardcore extremist groups here in Indonesia had caused a lot of countries to issued Travel Warning because they feel like Indonesia is not safe. Whose to blame but these nut-jobs? I really hope that many Christians won’t fall for what Terry Jones preached. The world needs more love not hatred.

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this.

  9. HS
    October 1, 2010 / 8:24 am

    I will move back to Indo if they allow my jewish husband to live there as a jew and have a synagogue there.
    That’s my point of view of Indonesia’s freedom of religion .
    Having KTP that stated religion is already bad enough for me…..ugh….

    • Maureen
      October 2, 2010 / 6:35 pm

      LOL on the KTP remark. So true, so true!
      Thanks HS!

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