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Indonesia's Christian leaders call for national unity

Joint message warns against growing intolerance and divisions ahead of upcoming regional elections

Indonesia's Christian leaders call for national unity

Holy Cross Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunyamin of Bandung, secretary-general of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari)

December 5, 2017

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Christian leaders in Indonesia have issued a joint message calling on Catholics and Protestants to promote national unity amid growing intolerance as the country prepares for elections next year.

Holy Cross Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunyamin of Bandung, secretary-general of the Catholic bishops' conference and Reverend and Gomar Gultom, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia were among the Christian leaders who signed the message

"The unity of the Indonesian nation is under threat from divisions. Anxieties have been felt in recent months. Certain parties, clearly or unclearly, have attempted to take a path that deviates from our national philosophy of Pancasila [five principles]," they said. 

"It can be seen at many rallies and incidents in relation to unhealthy political competition that uses all means, including a narrow fanaticism and even religious incitement," they said.

Thousands of Muslim hardliners held a rally in Jakarta Dec. 2, to mark a protest a year ago that eventually sent then Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian, to jail for insulting the Quran. 

Purnama was defeated in the Jakarta governor election in February. The election saw deep sectarian divisions when thousands of Muslims used religious sentiments to oust him in favor of Anies Baswedan, a Muslim.

The Christian leaders' message comes a few months before the country holds regional elections. 

"Spiritual strength and inspiration encourage us to promote unity and to actively take part in developing our beloved nation," they said in their message issued in late November.

 

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