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Indonesia Facts

Score:65/ 100
Region:Asia
Persecution Type:Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level:Very High
Population:266,795,000
Christians:32,379,000
Main Religion:Islam
Government:Presidential Republic
Leader:Joko Widodo

Profile of Persecution

Violence 72%
Church Life 56%
National Life 61%
Community Life 68%
Family Life 66%
Private Life 64%

Violence and the influence of radical Islam

Attacks against three churches in Surabaya in May almost doubled Indonesia’s violence score for 2018. In Indonesia, conservative Muslim political parties and radical Islamic groups exert significant influence, resulting in Sharia-inspired policies and public opinion that opposes Christianity.

While the government tightens the country’s blasphemy laws, most problems for believers come from confrontations with radical Islamic groups. Some Islamic religious leaders instigate Christian persecution and hatred against Christians (and other religious minorities) through their teaching in mosques, but this occurs in the mass media and by politicians as well.

How Christians are suffering

Many converts from Islam experience persecution from their Indonesian families. However, the intensity of the persecution varies and is mostly in the form of isolation and verbal abuse. Only a small percentage of converts face physical violence for their Christian faith. The level of persecution also varies by region. Places like West Java or Aceh–where radical Islamic groups are strong and exert heavy influence on society and politics–are hot spots for more intense persecution toward Christians.

In addition, once a church is seen to be proselytizing, as many evangelical and Pentecostal churches do, they soon run into problems with radical Islamic groups. Typically, non-traditional church groups also experience difficulties securing permissions to build churches. Even if they manage to fulfill all legal requirements—including winning court cases—local authorities still ignore them. There have been reports of Catholic churches having difficulties obtaining building permission as well. Over all, the situation for Christians has continued to deteriorate in recent years.

Examples

On May 13, 2018, three churches in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, were attacked by suicide bombers, killing 11 Christians and wounding scores more. What shocked the nation was that the attacks were carried out in a highly coordinated way by a whole family, including two girls aged 9 and 12 years old. These attacks were the country’s largest since the Bali bombings in 2005 and the biggest on Christians since 2000.

In addition, there have been several reports from different parts of the country where converts to Christianity have been detained by their families. Most are isolated for several weeks and can be expelled from the family home once it’s clear their conversion is serious. Children of Christians often face ostracism and verbal abuse. In some regions, Muslim families regularly forbid their children to play with Christian friends. They are called infidels and are sometimes mocked by Islamic religious teachers and made to sit in the back row of the school classroom.

Pray for Indonesia

  • Pray God would do an amazing work in Indonesia—home to the largest percentage of Muslims in the world—and reach many more people with the gospel.
  • Pray for Christian children in public schools within strong Islamic regions who often experience discrimination.
  • Pray that the government would take substantial steps toward promoting tolerance and religious freedom across the country.
  • Pray for Christian converts from Islam who are pressured to renounce Jesus. Ask God to give them courage and perseverance.
  • Pray that the government leaders would do all that’s in their power to prevent and punish violence by radical Islamic groups.

Stories from Indonesia

September 11, 2019

‘It’s our right to have Sunday service’—police halt church worship in Indonesia

On Sunday during one of their regular church services, congregation members in the Indonesian city of Riau watched in confusion as government officers interrupted their worship. Read More

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March 2, 2019

Pray for 22-Year-Old Christian Student Sentenced to Prison for Blasphemy

A 22-year-old college student in Indonesia has been convicted of blasphemy and now faces 18 months in prison for insulting Islam. He is one of the most recent Christians convicted of blasphemy. Read More

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