Aceh region faces church demolitions

Aceh region

See Aceh region in light green at top left (Image: Wikimedia Creative Commons).

PRAYER ALERT for Aceh region. From Intercessory Prayer Ministry International. In compliance with Islamic demands, Indonesian authorities in the Aceh region have started to tear down Christian churches. Their move comes after Muslim mobs rampaged and attacked churches. At least one person was killed. Thousands of Christians were displaced.”

Friday is the Muslim holy day. On Friday, October 9, fired up by mosque sermons, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office. They demanded that all unregistered churches in the Aceh region be closed. Imams issued text messages spurring Muslims from other areas to rise up against churches and call for their demolition.  

On October 12, authorities facilitated a meeting with Islamic leaders. They agreed to demolish 10 unregistered churches in the Aceh region over the course of two weeks. Approximately 8,000 Christians were displaced. Many fled to bordering provinces. Their fears were justified. Islamic leaders continued issuing messages saying, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”

Authorities had originally requested of church leaders to demolish their own churches. “How can we do that?” asked Paima Berutu, one of the church leaders. “It is impossible [for us to take it down] … Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar, man and women. It was painful.

Many Muslims and some media say that the churches were in the wrong for not being registered. But thanks to Indonesia’s 2006 Joint Decree on Houses of Worship, it is effectively impossible to obtain a church permit from the authorities. The decree made it illegal for churches to acquire permits unless they can get two virtually impossible things. First “signatures from 60 local households of a different faith,” presumably Muslims. Second, “a written recommendation from the regency or municipal religious affairs office.” That means from the local sheikh and council of Muslim elders. Those are the same people most likely to incite Muslims against Christians! Christian activists say many mosques are unregistered and built without permits. But the authorities ignore those infractions.

Others try to justify these recent attacks on churches by pointing out that they took place in the Aceh region. This is the only region in Indonesia where Islamic law, or Sharia, is officially authorized. Since 2006 more than 1,000 churches have been shut down in the Aceh region. .

Even where Islamic law is not enforced, even fully registered churches are under attack. These include the Philadelphia Protestant Church in Bekasi. Bekasi is nearly 1,500 miles south of the Sharia-compliant Aceh region. This church did have the necessary paperwork. However, it too was illegally shut down in response to violent Muslim protests.

On December 25, 2012, the congregation assembled on empty land to celebrate Christmas. Hundreds of Muslims, including women and children, continued to persecute the church-less congregation. They threw rotten eggs and rocks. They hurled plastic bags filled with urine and feces at the Christians. Police just stood by and watched.


1.      For the Christian community in Aceh to be strengthened by the grace of God. For grace to endure and persevere during this terrible persecution.

2.      For God’s supernatural intervention in the lives of those believers. They have been displaced through the burning of churches in the Aceh region. Yet they have testimonies of His divine provision. This has actually resulted in the salvation of those that seek their destruction. 

3.      For improvement in human rights of Christians throughout Indonesia. For increased opportunities to practice their Christian faith.

4.      For the increased witness of the church in Indonesia despite persecution of the church in the Aceh region.

DailyInsightIf anyone seeks to deprive others of freedom by force, he should be deprived of freedom by force. (See Rom. 13:4.)

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Related sources for Aceh region.

 The Indonesian Jihad on Christian Churches

Keyword: Aceh region.

Persecution increases in Aceh region.

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