A local village official in Indonesia stopped a church service on 19 February, demanding that the church discontinue meeting.
While members of the Tabernacle of David Christian Church in the village of Rajabasa Jaya were praying together on Sunday morning, a local chief named Wawan Kurniawan leapt over a metre-high fence and stormed into the service. Pushing the pastor aside, Wawan took to the pulpit and demanded that the service end. In response, some of those in attendance asked the chief to be patient, for they were only praying.
While this was happening, ten other villagers entered the church and joined in with the chief’s demands. During the ensuing turmoil, someone grabbed the pastor by the neck and began to choke him. Eventually, the congregation was forced to disperse. In his defence, Chief Wawan claims that the church does not have a permit to meet – a requirement frequently demanded by local authorities even though governmental laws guarantee the constitutional right to gather for worship. Because of the violent nature of the confrontation, the matter has been referred to the police.
Speaking of the incident, the Indonesian Churches Association has called on the authorities to take the matter seriously and not “ignore such intolerant actions”. The concern is that, if appropriate action is not taken, others could be emboldened to carry out similar acts of harassment against Christians.