Implementing the Regulation on Places of Worship in Indonesia: New Problems, Local Politics and Court Action
National University of Singapore (NUS)
December 1, 2010
Asian Studies Review, Vol. 34, pp. 403-419, December 2010
This article examines the local implementation of the national Joint Regulation 2006 on places of worship in Indonesia. It focuses on the case study of the Protestant Christian Batak Congregation, which became one of the first churches to successfully challenge the authority of a local leader to cancel its permit to build a church. I begin by exploring the history of the regulation of permits for places of worship in Indonesia and the various proposals for law reform that have been put forward since 1998. I then outline the provisions of the new Joint Regulation and highlight the ongoing problems for religious minorities at the local level because of the failure of local authorities to implement the national regulation. I will demonstrate how religious minorities are challenging the decisions of local authorities by complaining to independent watchdogs, taking court action and using the political process. In conclusion, I argue that the Protestant Christian Batak Congregation court case is part of a broader trend for local authorities to use conflict over places of worship as an opportunity for political gain in the highly competitive political atmosphere since the downfall of Suharto in 1998.
Keywords: Indonesia, Religion, Law, Places of WorshipAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 26, 2010
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