On 18 February, a local village official forced his way into a church service in the Indonesian village of Rajabasa Jaya and demanded that the Christians stop worshipping immediately. He claimed that the church was meeting without a permit. Other villagers also joined in the attack and, during the turmoil, one of the intruders attempted to choke the pastor.
Due to the violent nature of the confrontation, the situation was referred to the police and charges were laid against the instigating village official, Wawan Kurniawan. After charges of blasphemy were considered, Wawan was eventually only charged with “intrusion”, in part because of a settlement reached between the accused and members of the church. Wawan agreed to publicly apologise to the Christians and grant the congregation a temporary permit to continue using the building for worship. In exchange, the church members agreed to leave any prosecution against Wawan to the authorities.
Christian leaders are concerned about the perceived inequality of the prosecutor’s decision, believing there would have been a far harsher punishment if similar actions were taken against a Muslim prayer service. “The authorities, I think, should treat citizens equally before the law,” states Lukas Sutrisno, an Indonesian church planter. Without consistency in the ways that the regulations are applied, Christians in Indonesia have concerns that such disruptions could reoccur.