JUDGES RULE CHURCH IN BEKASI CAN WORSHIP
September 15 MPBS24/7 REPORT Fron CDN A court in West Java Province has revoked a local decree that forbade Christian activities of a church in Bekasi and has ordered officials to allow the Christians to establish a place of worship. After months of conflict and legal battles, the State Administrative Court in Bandung on Sept. 3 revoked the Dec. 31, 2009 decree prohibiting Christian activities of Batak Christian Protestant Filadelfia Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, or HKBP Filadelfia) in Jejalan village, Bekasi. The church had argued that the decree, along with the closure of their worship building on Jan. 12, resulted from pressure by Islamist groups that did not represent the wishes of the area residents. The Rev. Palti Panjaitan of HKBP Filadelfia said he was happy that the church at last had found fair authorities who based their decisions on the rule of law, â€śunlike the regent of Bekasi, who often has been unjust in making a decision by tending to side with a small group of people.â€ť Since 2008 HKBP Filadelfia has sought permission for a worship place from Bekasi Regent H. Saâ€™duddin, who declined to grant it under pressure from a small group of Islamists called the Forum Islamic Ummah Jejalen Raya Bekasi, according to church leaders. As a result, the church had been holding services on a strip of roadside land in front of their temporary site, using umbrellas to protect them from the intense heat of the sun and from sudden rainstorms. The judges, identified only as Setiobudi, Irna, and Susilowati, ruled that the regent of Bekasi should issue a permit for the church to establish a place of worship. â€śThis point is important because if the regent of Bekasi does what the judge said, then we will build our church and no longer serve in the hot sun and the rains that sometimes come unexpectedly,â€ť Pastor Panjaitan said.