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Proposed Indonesian law could regulate churchescomment (0)

January 5, 2006

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Following the closure of scores of churches in the past two years, the Indonesian government is revising a controversial law that regulates places of worship.

But Christian leaders fear that the changes would do little to keep Muslim communities from blocking or shutting down the churches.

The original 1969 decree requires all religious groups to apply for permits before setting up a place of worship.

Neighbors in the immediate vicinity of a proposed church, mosque or Hindu temple must give their consent before a permit is granted.

Under proposed revisions, community members would be given even greater power to determine whether a church could be established, as “inter-faith forums” mirroring the religious makeup of the village and province would have to give approval before a church could even apply for a permit.

“If it comes down to a vote, Muslim leaders will influence others to vote against churches,” Antonius Benny Susetyo, a spokesman for the Indonesian Bishops’ Council, told Compass Direct news service.

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