Category : Indonesia

(NYT) Indonesia Family, With Children in Tow, Carries Out Suicide Bombings at 3 Churches

One suicide bomber appeared to have been disguised as a churchgoer. Another drove a Toyota minivan to one attack site. Still another was seen in footage speeding on a scooter before exploding.

When the smoke cleared from the back-to-back bombings, which targeted three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, as worshipers gathered between services on Sunday morning, the police said it had been the work of one family: a couple who had led their four children in a rampage that took their own lives and killed at least seven other people.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to the group’s news agency Amaq. In an initial bulletin, the group described each of the back-to-back bombings as a “martyrdom” operation. In a subsequent, longer media release, the group identified three modes of attack, including a car bomb, a suicide vest and a motorcycle-borne bomb.

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Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ) Jakarta’s Governor, Backed by Islamic Conservatives, Sets Up Vice Showdown

Businesses are criticizing plans by Jakarta’s governor to close hotels and entertainment venues without warning as part of a vice crackdown, setting up a fight between a powerful lobby and a fast-rising politician backed by Islamic conservatives.

The crackdown makes good on a campaign pledge by the governor, Anies Baswedan, who benefited from hard-line Muslim support in an election last year that removed a minority Christian from office. The then incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was also convicted of blasphemy against Islam and is serving a two-year prison sentence.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has traditionally been home to a tolerant strain of Islam. But rising conservatism, in the nearly 90% of Indonesia’s 250 million population identifying as Muslims, has played a larger role in politics in recent years.

In addition to Mr. Baswedan’s local crackdown, national lawmakers are negotiating a revised criminal code. Under proposals by Islamic political parties, sex outside marriage, gay sex and cohabitation of unmarried couples would become illegal. In Aceh, the only province that is governed by Shariah law, non-Muslims have recently been flogged for violating rulesagainst gambling.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NYT) In Indonesia, a Mosque and a Church Foster Friendship Amid Religious Tensions

On a tree-lined side street in the Indonesian capital sits a colonial-era Protestant church with rustic wooden pews and stained-glass windows, and an antique pipe organ built into a large wall behind the altar.

Across the street is a modern, 100,000-square-foot mosque with towering arches at its entrances and a cavernous prayer area laid wall-to-wall with red carpet.

Despite their different faiths, the two houses of worship are friendly, helpful neighbors — and an example of pluralism in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation at a time of heightened fears over religious intolerance.

“We respect each other,” said Nur Alam, an imam at the Sunda Kelapa Grand Mosque, which opened in 1971. “If we never offend other people, then we will be respected.”

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Posted in Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture

(CT) Blasphemy Blocks Re-Election of Indonesia’s Only Christian Governor

The blasphemy charges that cost Indonesia’s top Christian politician his re-election race won’t send him to jail.

Just a day after Basuki Purnama—popularly known as Ahok—conceded the runoff for governor of Jakarta, prosecutors recommended a light sentence of two years probation instead of the maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Ahok, a double minority in the archipelago as a Christian and as an Indonesian citizen who is ethnically Chinese, secured approval ratings as high as 70 percent in the capital region during his campaign. But when the anti-corruption crusader was accused of distorting a Qur‘an teaching to convince the nation’s overwhelming Muslim majority to vote for a Christian, public opinion shifted dramatically.

Ahok repeatedly denied the claims as a translation error, and accused Indonesia’s hardline Muslim groups of coordinating an attack against him. He ultimately conceded Wednesday’s election, trailing in the polls by less than 10 percentage points.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Indonesia, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NPR) Facing Blasphemy Charges, Indonesian Politician 'Happy That History Chose Me'

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CC) Philip Jenkins–A Christian governor in Jakarta

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.

In large part, these crimes resulted from economic grievances””Chinese merchants were targeted as scape­goats. Active Islamist terror movements also appeared, with ties to al-Qaeda. For some years, Indo­nesia seemed to epitomize Muslim-Christian tensions at their most alarming.
Subsequently, conditions have improved enormously, or rather, reverted to traditional norms of tolerance. Although Christians must be very cautious about any attempts at evan­gelism, congregations worship openly, and Indonesia is now home to some spectacular megachurches.

The most encouraging man­i­festation of improved attitudes is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is commonly known by his Chinese nickname, Ahok. Since 2014, Ahok has been governor of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, a city with a population of 10 million, with some 30 million in the larger metropolitan region.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Top Christian politician facing blasphemy charge in Indonesia

Indonesia’s most prominent Christian politician is to be prosecuted for blasphemy in a victory for conservative Islam in the world’s biggest Muslim nation.

Police named Basuki Tjahja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, as a criminal suspect, following huge and deadly protests against him in the capital this month. The prosecution of Mr Basuki, who is also unusual among Indonesian politicians in being ethnically Chinese, brings into the open old and sometimes violent divisions between the Muslim majority and practitioners of other religions.

In September, while campaigning for next year’s election to the Jakarta governorship, Mr Basuki joked about political opponents who had cited Koranic verses in arguing that a Christian should not hold high office. He said that they had “deceived” their audience, a statement which has been taken up by his antagonists as a blasphemous commentary on the Koran by a “kafir”, or non-Muslim.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Failed Bomber Wounds Roman Catholic Priest in Indonesia Church

The 18-year-old assailant left a bench and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, the man managed to take an ax from the backpack and attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand, Mr. Amar said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Don't call 11-year-old Joey Alexander a jazz prodigy: 'I just like to be as myself'

The 11-year-old musical prodigy has been making waves recently with his beyond-his-years skills on the keyboard, and on TODAY Thursday the Jakarta, Indonesia native showed off those talents first in an interview and jam session with Lester Holt, then later in the studio.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Children, Indonesia, Music

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama–An Ethnic Chinese Christian, Breaking Barriers in Indonesia

Mr. Basuki, a 48-year-old Protestant whose grandfather was a tin miner from Guangzhou, China, was sworn in Wednesday [of last week] at the State Palace by President Joko Widodo.

None of Jakarta’s previous governors have been Christian or of Chinese ancestry, except for one who served briefly as an appointee half a century ago (like Mr. Basuki, he was both). And despite Indonesia’s history of discrimination ”” and, at times, savage violence ”” against ethnic Chinese, Mr. Basuki says he considers neither his faith nor his ethnicity to be a political handicap.

“When people told me ”˜the Chinese are a minority,’ my father would say to tell them that we are more patriotic,” Mr. Basuki said in a recent interview. “If one day Indonesia is occupied by a foreign country, my father said he would be in front of the front line to fight for our independence again.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Indonesia, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Ec News) Muslim Indonesia tries to halt spread of ISIS teachings in the country

Indonesia has issued a ban on the teachings of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, being propagated online through a YouTube message encouraging locals to sign up with extremist movement.

Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, told journalists Monday that the ban was reached after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in mainly Muslim Indonesia, ucanews reports.

“The ISIS teachings are not a religious issue,” he said. “The government and the State reject and ban ISIS teachings from growing in Indonesia.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

(World Watch Monitor) Case hangs over Indonesian pastor; human rights group questions police logic

An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.

Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.

The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) Indonesian president worried by growing religious intolerance

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was concerned by growing religious intolerance in the country with world’s largest Muslim population, which many analysts say his administration has failed to contain.

Indonesia has recently seen a series of increasingly violent attacks on religious minorities like Christians, Shia Muslims and members of Ahmadiyah, a small Islamic sect which is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(CSM) 'Provoking peace' in Indonesia, a story about Christians and Muslims in Ambon, Indonesia

The war in Ambon and the wider Maluku islands started for a variety of reasons. But it quickly boiled down to a question of identity, of Christians versus Muslims, as more than 5,000 people were killed and 500,000 were displaced from their homes between 1999 and 2002.

The religious passions and communal hatred stirred up in the war put a question mark over Indonesia’s moves to build a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship. Could Indonesia’s Muslim majority coexist with Christians and other religious minorities without an authoritarian hand on the tiller?

Sitting in Ambon’s Joas Coffee House 13 years after the fighting ended, the answer is clear: Yes. And sitting across from me is Jacky Manuputty, one member of a brave group of local community leaders, Muslim and Christian alike, who have helped heal the wounds of war and today act as the first responders of harmony when the fragile peace looks threatened.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) Moderate Islamic Preachers Gain Followers in Indonesia

When protests against the low-budget, anti-Islam “Innocence of Muslims” video flared across the Islamic world last month, Indonesia’s Habib Munzir Almusawa preached a different message to his tens of thousands of followers in Jakarta: Just ignore it.

“If we react so emotionally, then how can we show the good side of Islam?” Mr. Almusawa told worshipers at the al-Munawwar mosque here….

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, is seeing a wave of new, more moderate Muslim preachers, among them Mr. Almusawa. They represent a balancing of the more militant strains of Islam that have proliferated here. Ten years ago this week, Muslim extremists bombed nightclubs on the resort island of Bali, killing 202 people in the single biggest terror attack since Sept. 11, 2001, in the U.S.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Gleanings) Embattled Indonesian Church Must Relocate Despite Supreme Court Support

A West Java church which has become emblematic of record-breaking religious intolerance in Indonesia will now be relocated by the Indonesian government.

Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) legally acquired permission to build a church in Bogor in 2006 but has been shuttered for years due to opposition from neighboring Muslim extremists. The Constitutional Court, the archipelago’s equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in 2011 that the church be allowed to occupy its building. The mayor of Bogor refused to comply.

The government’s recent decision came after a closed-door meeting between the Indonesian Minister of Internal Affairs and Bogor city leaders excluded GKI Yasmin church representatives but did include representatives from a local Muslim extremist group. According to ministry spokesman Reydonnyzar Moenek, the government is preparing replacement land for the church.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Indonesian Security Forces turn to Islamic Clerics to uproot terrorism

Every few months, the head of counterterrorism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation pays a visit to a Koranic academy south of the capital to address an assembly of clerics. His message, he says, is blunt: Stopping would-be bombers “is your job, not mine.”

Ansyaad Mbai’s plea for help is also surprising, given the string of successes against Islamist militants that Indonesian security services have notched in recent years. After a blaze of attacks inspired in part by al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, strikes in the United States, the militants in Indonesia are now a battered and diminished force. In just over two years, 33 terrorism suspects have been killed, mostly in shootouts with police, and nearly 200 have been arrested.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NY Times Op-Ed) Andreas Harsono– Indonesia Is No Model for Muslim Democracy

It is fashionable these days for Western leaders to praise Indonesia as a model Muslim democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared, “If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.” And last month Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, lauded Indonesia for showing that “religion and democracy need not be in conflict.”

Tell that to Asia Lumbantoruan, a Christian elder whose congregation outside Jakarta has recently had two of its partially built churches burned down by Islamist militants. He was stabbed by these extremists while defending a third site from attack in September 2010.

This week in Geneva, the United Nations is reviewing Indonesia’s human rights record. It should call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to crack down on extremists and protect minorities. While Indonesia has made great strides in consolidating a stable, democratic government after five decades of authoritarian rule, the country is by no means a bastion of tolerance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Daily Star) Franz Magnis-Suseno–Will religious tolerance in Indonesia continue?

Violence against Christians in Indonesia frequently makes news headlines. However, acts of violence targeting Christians should not obscure the fact that the majority of Indonesia’s Christian communities live and worship free from fear and interference in a Muslim majority country, and that religious conversion has never been prohibited.

In the past few years, however, the level of religious freedom has declined. The government must have the courage to stop this trend and protect Indonesia’s religious minorities to continue to uphold religious freedom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Religion & Culture

An Unholy muddle in Indonesia

The world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, has long had a problem in some parts of the archipelago with religious extremism, intolerance and the sort of terrorism that can flow from both. The country has had a good deal of success in combating Islamist terrorism since the bombings on the island of Bali in 2002, which killed 202 people. But continuing suicide-bomb attacks and the discovery of terrorist training-camps suggest that Indonesia remains in danger. Judging by recent events, however, the country has yet to develop a clear strategy to deal with the threat. Too often, different bits of the state give out different, even contradictory, signals. The result is a dangerous muddle.

Thus on October 12th lawmakers at last passed a new security bill, the Law on State Intelligence. This was the culmination of years of debate, in many ways a tribute to Indonesia’s vibrant new democracy. Legislators wanted to produce a bill that sharpened the effectiveness of the country’s multitude of intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies without encroaching too much on hard-won civil rights. In the end, the law redefined the roles of those agencies, strengthening their powers to intervene against “opponents” working against the “national interest”. A tough new stance from the state, it might seem. Indeed, just the sort of law that might have made it easier to gather evidence against people such as Abu Bakar Basyir, a notorious radical cleric. At the conclusion of the latest case against him in June, Mr Basyir was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a district court for inciting terrorism and funding terrorist cells.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(AP) No shame for religious killings in Indonesian town

When Dani bin Misra was released from prison last week after serving just three months for smashing in the skull of a member of a Muslim sect, this conservative Indonesian town let out a triumphant cry.

“He’s a hero!” Rasna bin Wildan said of the teenage killer.

The ferociousness of the attack, captured on video and circulated widely on the Internet, guaranteed no one from the Ahmadiyah group would dare set foot in Cikeusik again, the 38-year-old farmer said as others nodded in agreement.
Their reaction is part of a wider wave of intolerance against religious minorities that is challenging Indonesia’s image as a beacon of how Islam and liberalism can coexist.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Violence

AP: Indonesian Islamists open front against Christians

Days after rumors spread across this industrial city that Christians were conducting a mass baptism, hard-line Islamic leaders called for local mosques to create a youth guard to act as moral police and put a quick stop to forced conversions.

They started training early Saturday morning, around 100 young men turning out in a field in Bekasi wearing martial arts uniforms. Leaders stressed that there was no plan to arm them, but they do not shy away from saying they’ll act essentially as thugs.

“We’re doing this because we want to strike fear in the hearts of Christians who behave in such a way,” said Murhali Barda, who heads the local chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front, which pushes for the implementation of Islamic-based laws in Bekasi and other parts of the archipelagic nation. “If they refuse to stop what they’re doing, we’re ready to fight.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Indonesian Clerics Mull Motorcycle Helmet Fatwa

Indonesia’s leading clerics are considering a religious edict against riding a motorbike without a crash helmet to promote safety on the chaotic and deadly roads of the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Such a fatwa would not carry a penalty for those who ignore it, but advocates said Sunday making road safety a moral issue could be more effective than the law.

Helmets have been compulsory in Indonesia since 1988, but a 2005 government study found that up to 30 percent of riders in cities still did not wear one. Even fewer riders wear them in rural areas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Travel

Lewis M. Simons on Indonesia: This Muslim country wants more Americans

In the months ahead, as 30,000 additional heavily armed American soldiers and Marines surge into Afghanistan, a much smaller group of young Americans will ship out to the world’s most populous Muslim country: Indonesia.

Armed with little more than laptops and textbooks, shod not in combat boots but in sandals and sneakers, these 25 volunteers will be the first representatives of the Peace Corps to land in Indonesia since the organization was expelled in 1965. By agreeing to dispatch volunteers to live side-by-side with Indonesians, teaching English to their children and exchanging insights into each other’s cultures, the Obama administration is sending the clearest possible signal to the world’s Muslims: America’s fight is not with you, but with the terrorists at your fringes.

The move also reflects recognition by the administration and Congress that the Peace Corps is a critical component of a new “smart power” policy toward U.S. engagement abroad. Such an approach emphasizes public diplomacy and grassroots-level development assistance over military hard power. Acknowledging the need for this shift, Congress voted last month to raise Peace Corps funding by $60 million ”” the largest increase ever ”” to $400 million.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Globalization, Indonesia, Religion & Culture

Megachurch Symbolizes Indonesia's Tolerance

Indonesia has received a lot of bad press in recent years: for bombings in Bali and at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in the capital, Jakarta ”” both the work of al-Qaida-linked militants ”” and for numerous attacks on Christian churches. But Indonesia overall is a far more tolerant place than these acts suggest, and it appears to be getting even more accepting.

Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other nation. But in Jakarta, a $27 million Christian church that seats more than 4,500 people opened its doors last month. The Reformed Millennium Cathedral is the work of preacher Stephen Tong, a sprightly 67-year-old who waited 16 years to get permission to build his church.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Other Churches