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Book clarifies laws on churches

Christian clergy are victims of own ignorance over decrees on building places of worship

Writer A.M Sulistiyadi Tikno (in blue) hands over copies to some pastors Writer A.M Sulistiyadi Tikno (in blue) hands over copies to some pastors
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • April 5, 2011
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A Catholic author has written a book to help Christian clergymen understand laws surrounding the establishment and upkeep of worship places.

A.M. Sulistyadi Tikno, writer of Building Churches and Human Rights says Church institutions do not criticize the law on worship places because Church leaders simply have not understood it.

“Many Catholic and Protestant pastors do not know about the law. That is why they are manipulated by local governments, neighbors as well as village, sub-district, district or municipality heads,” Tikno told about 200 people attending the book launch yesterday in Jakarta.

On March 21, 2006, Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni and Home Affairs Minister Muhammad Ma’aruf signed a revision of the controversial 1969 joint ministerial decree.

The revision requires a community from a religious minority - if it wants to build a worship house - to have a minimum congregation of 90 people, and to receive the approval of at least 60 people of other faiths living in the area.

It goes on to say that each of these people must be verified by local officials.

It also requires written recommendations from the local head of the Religious Affairs Ministry office as well as from the local chapter of the Communication Forum for Religious Harmony.

Tikno cited a Protestant church in Malang, East Java as an example, when the local government ordered the pastor and his congregation to remove its roof.

“This should not have happened since the Protestants already had a building permit. They must defend their rights,” he said.

According to Tikno, his book will make Christian clergymen aware of their rights and encourage them to take legal steps if such incidents arise in future.

Related report
Catholic Church Approves Of Revised Decree On Worship Places

IJ13867.1648
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