A church in Indonesia on Jan. 8 was prohibited from holding a Sunday service in front of a city hall building, where it had gone after losing its prior worship venue in a mall, Morning Star News reported.
Following opposition to the church’s services in a mall in Medan, North Sumatra Province, the head of the Medan Public Order Enforcer (Satpol Pamong Praja, or SPP), Rakhmat Harahap, and his unit banned an Elim Church Indonesia Christian congregation from holding worship near the Medan City Hall.
Harahap said the church had no permission to worship in front of the Medan City Hall, just as officials earlier had said they had no permission to worship at the Suzuya Mall in the Marella area of Medan.
In a video appearing on social media, Harahap says the site near the city hall was not allocated for religious service and so was opposed by area people. Harahap on Jan. 14 told online newpaper TribunMedan that the congregation lacked permission to hold a religious service at the site. He added that there is no ban on Christian worship, but that all parties must comply with legislation.
Indonesia ranked 33rd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Indonesian society has adopted a more conservative Islamic character, and churches involved in evangelistic outreach are at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremist groups, according to Open Doors’ WWL report.