Christianity grows nearly 1% in Muslim-majority Indonesia
The latest data released by the Indonesian government suggests that the number of Christians in the predominantly Muslim archipelago has increased slightly, a US-based group noted.
The Southeast Asian country, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, now has 20.4 million Protestants and 8.42 million Catholics, who together make up 10.58% of the total population of 272, 23 million, according to data from the General Directorate of the Population Department. and civil status (Dukcapil) of the Ministry of the Interior, International Christian Concern noted, adding that the 2010 census data showed that 9.87% of the population was Christian.
Among the Indonesian population, 236.53 million (86.88%) identify as Muslims.
Geographically, there are 30 predominantly Muslim provinces. Only in four provinces is Islam a minority religion or less than 50%, including West Papua.
The Indonesian Constitution is based on the doctrine of Pancasila – five principles supporting the nation’s belief in one God and in social justice, humanity, unity and democracy for all. However, there are many extremist groups in Indonesia that oppose Pancasila.
Churches often face opposition from groups who try to obstruct the construction of non-Muslim places of worship. Human Rights Watch previously said more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago have been closed due to pressure from these groups.
Indonesia is ranked # 47 on Open Doors USA’s global watch list of countries where Christians face the most extreme levels of persecution.
The Christian minority in Indonesia attended this year’s Easter service under tight security following a suicide bombing outside a church by a married couple affiliated with a local terrorist network who pledged allegiance to The Islamic State.
Two days before Good Friday, police shot dead a 25-year-old woman identified as Zakiah Aini, who pointed a gun at officers at the National Police Headquarters in Jakarta and fired at least six shots, Jakarta World reported at the time, adding that Zakiah was a college dropout who supported ISIS.
On Palm Sunday, a 26-year-old man, identified as Muh Lukman, and his wife, Yogi Sahfitri Fortuna, alias Dewi, blew themselves up in front of the portal of the cathedral church in the town of Makassar in Sulawesi province of Sulawesi. South at around 10:30 am as the church prepared for its third service.
Police said many of the suspects and the two suicide bombers were part of a local terrorist group, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, or JAD, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to ISIS.
JAD, Indonesia’s most active terrorist cell for the past two years, was also behind coordinated attacks on three churches – the Immaculate St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the Christian Church of Indonesia and Surabaya Central Pentecostal Church – in Surabaya on May 13, 2018, which killed at least 13 people.