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Jakarta Post

Bantul church moved to another village following protests

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Thu, January 9, 2020   /   03:12 pm
Bantul church moved to another village following protests A house belonging to priest Tigor Yunus Sitorus had also served as a church for the Indonesia Pentecostal Church (GPdI) Immanuel Sedayu congregation in Bantul, Central Java. The priest has agreed to move the church after protests. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

The Bantul administration in Yogyakarta and the congregation of the Indonesia Pentecostal Church (GPdI) Immanuel Sedayu in the regency have agreed to move the house of worship to Argosari village, from Argorejo, following protests. 

The agreement was made on Wednesday at the office of Bantul Regent Suharsono and was witnessed by church leader Tigor Yunus Sitorus and his lawyer Budi Hermawan from the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute.

Budi previously assisted Tigor in legal proceedings at the Yogyakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN), as the latter sued the Bantul administration for revoking a building permit for GPdI Immanuel Sedayu in July.

Suharsono, through Bantul Regental Decree No. 345/2019, canceled the church's permit to bow to pressure from locals who rejected religious activities at the place of worship, although the administration had previously issued a permit for the church in January 2019.

Tigor said he agreed to move the church to Argosari village, which is about 4 kilometers away, from the previous location, for the future of his congregation.

"What's important now is to have a place of worship. That's enough," he said, adding the new church would be established on 200-square-meter plot of land he bought with his own money. Sitorus also hoped the administration would help with the construction.

Suharsono vowed to donate 100 bags of cement for the church construction. He would also immediately issue the building permit for the new church.

For the time being, the GPdI Immanuel Sedayu congregation is allowed to use the nearby Javanese Christian Church (GKJ) Sedayu's building for Sunday services. 

Budi said the solution provided by the Bantul administration had actually set a bad precedent for cases of intolerance as it seemed to justify Argorejo residents' protests.

"The solution appears to be a good present for the intolerant group. [It is] not for the fulfillment of the right to religious freedom," he said. (vny)