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Indonesian pastor regrets remarks about Islamic rituals

Gilbert Lumoindong was reported to the police for blasphemy by the South Sulawesi Arimathea Islamic Forum
Pastor Gilbert Lumoindong, leader of the Indonesian Bethel Church Glow Fellowship Centre

Pastor Gilbert Lumoindong, leader of the Indonesian Bethel Church Glow Fellowship Centre (Photo: Youtube)

Published: April 16, 2024 10:23 AM GMT
Updated: April 16, 2024 11:16 AM GMT

A well-known pastor has tendered a public apology after Muslims in Indonesia accused him of making fun of Islamic rituals.

"With all humility, I apologize for the commotion that occurred," Gilbert Lumoindong, leader of the Indonesian Bethel Church Glow Fellowship Centre, said on April 15.

Lumoindong  was accompanied by Jusuf Kalla, chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council and a former vice president of the Muslim-majority nation, as he made the apology.

"I had no intention of making fun of, let alone insulting Muslims, absolutely none," he said.

The pastor, who has around a million followers on YouTube, compared Muslims' zakat (alms), which is pegged at 2.5 percent, with tithes, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy, which is 10 percent, in a video sermon.

He said the 10 percent meant Christians only prayed once a week and did not have to bother doing many movements during the prayer like Muslims.

"We pay 10 percent, that's why our worship service is just calm... stand up, clap, and relax," he said.

He also demonstrated Islamic rituals and movements, while laughing.

The video sparked widespread backlash from Islamist groups.

The South Sulawesi Arimathea Islamic Forum reported the pastor to the police for blasphemy on April 14.

“The video makes us Muslims feel hurt," said Jumzar Rachman, chairman of the forum. 

Utang Ranuwijaya from the Indonesian Ulema Council said the pastor’s statement was a "bad example from a religious figure."

"His statement is an irresponsible, unethical act, a bad example," he said.

Lumindong in his clarification claimed that he was quoted out of context.

He said the sermon was not for the public but was intended for his internal congregation.

Kalla asked Muslims to forgive the pastor so that there would be no prolonged conflict.

"Let's forgive because he has apologized," he continued.

Last year, Lumoindong made a controversial statement that sparked anger among Catholics after he launched a scathing attack on Pope Francis for backing civil unions by same-sex couples.

He said the pope's comments bordered on heresy and went against the teachings of the Bible.

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