Yasmin Church Dispute Reveals the Tensions in Indonesia’s Religious Policy

April 27, 2023

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, wrote an article published in The Diplomat this week exploring the tensions in Indonesia between the country’s competing commitments to religious tolerance, religious harmony, and religious freedom. Marshall illustrates how one congregation’s struggle to build a new church is a microcosm of the larger challenges facing this multireligious society. He writes:

On Easter Sunday, 2023, the city administration of Bogor, Indonesia, inaugurated a new building for the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin. It was a major ceremony, attended by senior politicians such as Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, and National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairwoman Atnike Nova Sigiro.

But what might otherwise have been a celebratory event has instead revealed and produced stark divisions in the local congregation and in the country itself. Given the local government’s illegal and unjust dealings with the church, many church members refused to attend the inauguration or worship in the new building.

This was not merely a local event – this church has received international coverage for at least 15 years, not least because it has become a microcosm of the conflicting currents of religious tolerance, religious harmony, and religious freedom in Indonesia. Hence the presence of senior cabinet ministers at the celebration.

Read the full article: “Yasmin Church Dispute Reveals the Tensions in Indonesia’s Religious Policy.”