Wednesday, July 28, 2010

USA: Three more precedent-setting cases of discrimination

It appears we are entering days when Western Christians, like their brothers and sisters in the non-West, will increasingly find their education and employment options greatly limited purely on account of their faith. Only faith that conforms to prescribed government standards will be considered legitimate.

CASE I

On 9 July, the University of Illinois sacked Professor Kenneth Howell -- a respected teacher and Christian who holds 2 masters degrees and 2 Ph.D.s -- after he was accused of "hate speech". Professor Howell, who had been teaching at the University for nine years, offended a student from his class, "Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought".

In an e-mail to students during the spring semester, Professor Howell explained that according to Catholic doctrine, "A homosexual orientation is not morally wrong just as no moral guilt can be assigned to any inclination that a person has. However, based on natural moral law, the Church believes that homosexual acts are contrary to human nature and therefore morally wrong."
A student complained and the professor was sacked.

See:
Ill. prof. fired for teaching about Catholic beliefs in class on Catholicism
ADF urges restoration of Kenneth Howell’s First Amendment rights, teaching position
Alliance Defence Fund, Monday 12 July 2010

Kenneth Howell Firing Reviewed By Univerity of Illinois Faculty: Lecturer Fired for Saying Homosexual Acts are 'Morally Wrong'.
Huffington Post 15 July 2010

ADF issues deadline to reinstate Dr. Kenneth Howell
Examiner, 21 July 2010

US University bars prof for teaching RC beliefs
Christian Institute, 22 July 2010

CASE II

Meanwhile, Jennifer Keeton (24), a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in school counseling at Augusta State University, was being officially warned that she will be dismissed from the program unless she alters her "central religious beliefs on human nature and conduct".

Miss Keeton, a Christian, has been ordered into a "remediation" program. She must undergo "diversity training" and "sensitization". Part of what is required of her is that she attends a Gay Pride parade and write a report on it (presumably it has to be a favourable report).

See:
Augusta State Univ. to counseling student: change your beliefs or get out
ADF attorneys file suit after university officials require counseling student to abandon her beliefs to get a degree
Alliance Defence League, 22 July 2010

Jennifer Keeton in her own words. 22 July 2010

Can a Christian Who Believes Homosexuality Is Wrong Become a Qualified Counselor?
Queerty, 24 July 2010

ASU student says gays have 'identity confusion'
By Stephanie Toone, Staff Writer Augusta Chronicle, 24 Aug 2010

Lawsuit Claims College Ordered Student to Alter Religious Views on Homosexuality, Or Be Dismissed
By Joshua Rhett Miller, FoxNews, 27 July 2010

Keeton is not the first Christian student to be threatened with expulsion purely on the basis of her religious beliefs concerning homosexuality.

UPDATE:
Jennifer Keeton, Anti-Gay Counseling Student Who Refused Remedial Training, Lawsuit Dismissed
Huffington Post: Gay Voices, 27 June 2012


CASE III

On Monday 26 July 2010, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division upheld the expulsion of Christian student Julea Ward, who had been expelled from Eastern Michigan University's counselling program in March 2009 after she respectfully denied instruction to counsel a homosexual man on his homosexual relationship because she could not affirm his homosexual activity.

See:
Court Upholds Expulsion of Counseling Student Who Opposes Homosexuality
By Todd Starnes, FoxNews, 28 July 2010

EMU officials: Change your beliefs or leave the Counseling Program
YouTube interview 3 Aug 2009

EMU sued for booting student over views on gays
By Justin Miller, the Michigan Messenger, 7 April 2009

ADF to appeal ruling that allows Eastern Michigan U. to expel Christian students for holding to beliefs
University banished graduate counseling student for not affirming homosexual behavior
27 July 2010 (article contains a link to the court's decision.)

The court ruled against the plaintiff (Ward) on the grounds that the Amercian Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics requires counselors respect diversity and refrain from discrimination. Referrals cannot be made on the basis of a counsellor's values, although there is an exemption for counsellors not wishing to assist clients seeking euthanasia.

According to the ruling, the "plaintiff had violated the ACA Code of Ethics by imposing her own values on a client, which is 'inconsistent with the counseling goal of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation'." Therefore: "Dismissal from a training program is appropriate 'when those supervisees are unable to provide competent professional services'." (pages 6-8 of court decision)

The Alliance Defence Fund is appealing the ruling.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

KENYA: 4 August constitutional referendum threatens trouble for Kenyan Church.

With the government hungry for a YES win, after receiving assurances it would attract US investment , the constitutional referendum on 4 August 2010 threatens to split the Kenyan Church into pro-government vs dissident/oppositional camps.

Religious liberty observers must watch Kenya to see if this division translates into favoured vs persecuted status.

Kenyan churches are united in their support for constitutional reform, but not in their support for the draft constitution that will go to a referendum on 4 August. Most churches are advocating a 'NO' vote because the draft constitution makes abortion more accessible; it entrenches Kadhi (Islamic) courts; and it advances ethnic federalism (Balkanisation/Majimbo) which many fear could trigger ethnic violence.

On Sunday 13 June, six died and over 100 were wounded when a church-run 'NO' rally in Nairobi was bombed. Tensions are extremely high.

The Kenyan government desperately wants the constitution passed. This puts much of the Kenyan church in the dangerous position of political opposition in a country known for its propensity for political violence.

(See earlier post: KENYA's churches oppose draft constitution over concerns about abortion, 'Balkanisation' and Kadhi (Islamic courts). 16 June 2010)

CRACKS EMERGE

A group of clergymen operating under the banner, Christians for Yes, have come out in defence of the draft constitution and are advocating a 'YES' vote. The group, led by retired Anglican Archbishop David Gitari, includes PCEA cleric Timothy Njoya, bishops Peter Njenga, Beneah Salala and Mwai Abiero as well as the Rev John Njenga of the Anglican Church of Kenya, evangelical bishop Patrick Mungai, and outspoken Catholic priest Ambrose Kimutai.

Speaking at a ceremony recently, Dr Gitari exhorted Christians to fight falsehoods peddled by preachers who oppose the draft. He trivialised the amendments to the abortion law and claimed that fears over Sharia laws were misplaced fears. "There is a lot of sharia-phobia in the Christian church," he said. "More than 80 per cent of Kenyans are Christians. There is no way 20 per cent can push their way over everybody." (emphasis mine)

According to Dr Njoya, church leaders who advocate 'NO' have abandoned the gospel and are peddling lies on the kadhi courts and abortion. "They have substituted 'No' for God," he said. "Christians should boycott such churches. These peddlers of lies should be smoked out. Their conduct has shown that the church needs redemption."

MP Professor Nyong'o supported Dr Njoya and compared church leaders opposed to the constitution to Pharisees in the Bible who rejected Jesus.

At a subsequent press conference, the Nairobi archbishop of the Catholic Church, John Cardinal Njue and the Anglican head, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, along with Bishop Mark Kariuki, maintained that the Church leadership would not relent in its quest to shoot down the document, but also, they would not be being forcing anyone to vote against their conscience.

See:
Reformers Take Battle to Church
By Emeka Gekara-Mayaka, 7 July 2010

Kenya: Cracks in Church as Clerics Join 'Yes'
By Peter Leftie, Daily Nation (Kenya), 22 July 2010

DANGERS LURK

Meanwhile, Church leaders in the 'NO' camp report receiving threats on their mobile phones. On Saturday 17 July, a renegade 'pastor', John Kamau, and two accomplices were arrested and charged with being in possession of explosive materials and for plotting to bomb a 'NO' campaign rally in Mombasa.

See:
Police question man found with explosives
By FRED MUKINDA, Daily Nation (Kenya), Sunday, July 18 2010
PHOTO: Some of the 300 bomb detonators that police recovered from a suspect in Ongata Rongai, Nairobi July 10, 2010. Police arrested two men, one of them a pastor and recovered bomb material in their car July 17, 2010.

Pastor with bomb had bus ticket to Coast
By Cyrus Ombati, Standard Media, 19 July 2010

Bomb pastor faces seven years in jail
By NICHOLAS NGOLYO, Daily Nation (Kenya), Monday, 19 July 2010
PHOTO: Rev John Kamau Mbugua in Kibera court on Monday 19 July.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PAPUA, Indonesia: TNI "sweeps" Puncak Jaya.

UPDATED 28 July 2010 (below)

As reported in the June issue of the West Papua Report (WPR) 2010, "Tensions are again intensifying in Mulia area in the Papuan Central Highlands region of Puncak Jaya."

According to the WPR, Papuan human rights defenders report that the Indonesian military launched "sweep" operations in the Tingginambut district during the third week of May. Homes in three villages have been burnt, two people killed, one woman raped, and all livestock in the three villages killed by Indonesian military.

The purpose of the "sweep" is allegedly to flush out separatist leader Goliat Tabuni.

As the WPR notes: "In the past such sweep operations have forced civilians to abandon their villages and seek shelter either with relatives or in the surrounding jungles where food shortages and lack of medical care have led to illness and death. Such sweep operations often continue for months, disrupting local trade and preventing villagers from tending local gardens. Despite desperate circumstances, security forces have also prohibited humanitarian relief operations from reaching the besieged civilian populations."

On 18 June, the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) posted details of the crisis in Papua's central highlands region of Puncak Jaya.

"In May, security force spokespersons warned that if the local OPM leader, Goliat Tabuni, did not surrender by June 28, major operations would be launched to capture him and his small force. Notwithstanding that deadline, it appears that major operations are already underway. The Indonesian government announced in mid-June that additional BRIMOB personnel were being dispatched to the region.

"According to reports from the field, the operations have already caused large numbers of civilians to flee to other villages or into the surrounding forests. Specifically, thousands of people are reportedly hiding in forests, notably some from the Tingginambut Distirct; other residents of Tingginambut District have fled to Kuyawagi Astir, Tiom, and Lani Districts. Civilians from the Districts of Yambi, Agandugume, and Ilaga Peak have fled to Majesty Towogi District.

"These civilians, in particular those who have fled to the forests, face health and possibly life threatening conditions including lack of access to food, adequate shelter, and medical services. In the past such "sweeping operations," Indonesian security forces prevented provision of humanitarian assistance to these besieged populations.

"Reports from the field also tell of security forces targeting of civilians through widespread arrests, also:
• A church in Kayogwebur district Tingginambut has been taken over as headquarters for the BRIMOB. Local people unable to worship there.
• Local people are forced to do labor tasks for Indonesian military.
• In the district of Kampong Tinggineri Tingginambut, a pregnant woman was raped by BRIMOB personnel in the first half of June.
• 12 houses and 2 churches have been burned by security forces in Gwenggu Pilia.
• In Pos Nalime Tingginambut District residents have been forced to clear their gardens and prepare landing positions for military helicopters.
• On June 11, BRIMOB conducted a residential sweep search of all houses on the road between Ilu and Mulia, detaining anyone without identification, putting them on Army trucks. (Most local people do not have ID and now afraid to leave their homes. As a result, gardens are untended and local commerce is crippled.)

"Recalling previous such sweep operations - West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) is concerned that those civilians who have fled their homes are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance."

See also:
UPDATE ON THE SITUATION IN PUNCAK JAYA (pictures)
By WPNews Puncak Jaya. Jul 16, 2010

If anyone else has a sense of déjà vu, see:
Papua, Indonesia: Crisis in Puncak Jaya
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 417 | Wed 21 Feb 2007

The story is virtually identical.

ICG REPORT

Complicating the situation is the fact that on 11 March 2010, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group released a highly controversial Asia Report No 188 entitled Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua.

The ICG report lays the blame for recent clashes firmly at the feet of the KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat - the West Papua National Committee), which ICG describes as militant and radical.

In early July, the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, West Papua Project, published a rebuttal entitled Get up, stand up: West Papua stands up for its rights. A rebuttal of the International Crisis Group Report No. 188, Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua: West Papuans unite against Special Autonomy and for a referendum on independence. By Jim Elmslie and Camellia Webb Gannon with Peter King

According to the West Papua Project's rebuttal, the KNPB is nothing more than a "media and information clearing house that expresses mainstream views held by a wide spectrum of Papuan civil society and political organisations, as well as the armed wing of the OPM."

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) also issued a statement rebutting the ICG report. WPAT laments that the ICG report ignores gross human rights abuses in Papuan and the fact that the "government subsidized 'migration' to Papua by non-Melanesian Indonesians will within this generation make Papuans a minority in their own homeland."
(See also: Papua (Indonesia): Genocide by Demographics.
WEA RL News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal. Friday 21 December 2007)

The WPP and the WPAT decry methodological problems in the ICG report, particularly ICG's failure to acknowledge the possibility that sources were advancing a particular agenda. I myself had criticised ICG for doing exactly this some years earlier. (See: Papua (Indonesia): Muslim-Christian tensions on a knife edge. WEA RL News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal. Thursday 19 June 2008)

All this matters because the ICG report has legitimised Indonesian military violence against the Papuans.

Naturally, mainstream media ran with ICG's authoritative analysis. Elmslie and Gannon fear the ICG report could actually pave the way to further violence in the province.

Mission, Betrayal and Genocide

From the 1950s MAF USA opened up the previously impenetrable mountainous inland of what was then Dutch New Guinea for courageous pioneer missionaries.

Annexed by Indonesia in 1969 and occupied by Indonesian armed forces (predominantly Javanese Muslims), Papua is being purposefully and rapidly colonised by Javanese Muslims for political and geo-strategic purposes. The indigenous Papuans, who are ethnic Melanesians and predominantly Christian, are being marginalised and their land is being Islamised .

Most Javanese Muslims despise the Papuans as racially and religiously inferior. TNI and BRIMOB officers routinely and freely express their racial and religious hatred for the Papuans in unrestrained violence.

The TNI has vast economic interests in Papua, including in the area of protection -- thus it is in the TNI's interests that Papuan "terrorism" and "separatism" be seen as genuine threats (when in reality they are not).
See: Papua, Indonesia, The TNI and the USA.
WEA RL News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal. 1 March 2007

Papuan resistance is essentially resistance against racial and religious discrimination, persecution, exploitation, marginalisation, Islamisation and threat of genocide.

In 2001 the Indonesian parliament granted the Papua Province a tokenistic "Special Autonomy" which was never implemented. On 18 June many thousands of Papuans rallied in Jayapura. Declaring "Special Autonomy" a failure, they symbolically "gave it back" to Indonesia and demanded a referendum on independence and renewed dialogue to be mediated by a neutral country.

On 8 July, more than ten thousand Papuans rallied again.
See: Thousands Rally in West Papua: Reject Special Autonomy, Demand Referendum on Independence
By Jacques Friedman. Jul 9, 2010
ALSO: Photo news

Forces, protesters fill West Papuan parliament
By Paul Cleary. The Australian. 10 July 2010

Tensions are extremely high.

Shamefully, just as in the case of some other Christian peoples who have suffered or are suffering gross human rights abuses and facing genocide, the Papuans have been betrayed and abandoned by Western human rights-affirming nations in exchange for lucrative mining concessions, arms deals and other economic and political interests.

The Church, however, must never abandon them.


If you say, "Behold, we did not know this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?
(Proverbs 24:12 ESV)

UPDATE - 28 July 2010

On 22 July, US defence secretary Robert Gates announced that the US will restore ties with Kopassus, Indonesia's notorious special forces unit which is known to have committed gross human rights violations in Papua, including the November 2001 political assassination of the chairman of Papuan Council Presidium, Theys Eluay.
(Regarding Eluay's assassination, see FreeWestPapua and Human Rights Watch).

Doubtless the US is doing this to prevent China from gaining a foothold in the region.
See: U.S. Boosts Asian Defense Ties Amid Growing Challenge From China Military
By Daniel Ten Kate - Jul 22, 2010
AND
Clinton, Gates offer distinct messages on human rights in Asia
By Glenn Kessler | July 22, 2010; 11:23 AM ET

It is a no-win situation for the Papuans. As
John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN notes: "For years, the U.S. military provided training and other assistance to Kopassus, and when the U.S. was most involved Kopassus crimes were at their worst. While this assistance improved the Indonesian military's deadly skills, it did nothing to improve its behavior. [. . .] Engaging Kopassus with only token concessions will not encourage reform, respect for rights or accountability. It may do the opposite."

At a Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit meeting due to be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 3-6 August, Vanuatu will support the indigenous Papuans' right to self-determination. The bipartisan motion was put to Vanuatu's Parliament after a petition of the people of Vanuatu called for a clear foreign policy on Papua.

See: Vanuatu to seek observer status for West Papua at MSG and PIF leaders summits

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EGYPT: what happens when Islamic totalitarianism meets Christian freedom?

In 1980, Egypt amended its constitution to elevate Sharia (Islamic law) as "the principal source of legislation". This provision -- which is now common in Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- renders constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law illusory. For Sharia's principal aim concerning religious liberty, is to eradicate apostasy (rejection of Islam) through the elimination of fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to reject Islam) and the establishment of dhimmitude (the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens; crippling systematic discrimination; violent religious apartheid). There is no religious liberty in Islam, for Islam survives as religious totalitarianism that refuses rejection.

In Egypt, as in virtually all Muslim states, a person's official religion is displayed on their identity card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim father is deemed Muslim from birth. According to Sharia, a Muslim woman is only permitted to marry a Muslim man. (NOTE: This is the main reason why Christian men convert to Islam, and why female converts to Christianity will risk life and liberty to secure a falsified/illegal ID, for without a Christian ID they cannot marry a Christian.)

If a Christian father converts to Islam (as some do for any number of pragmatic reasons, such as a desire for a Muslim wife or a better job), his Christian children are automatically deemed Muslim. They have no say in this and may not apostasise: i.e. return to Christianity. If a Muslim parent converts to Christianity they automatically lose custody of their children.

Egypt's Great Apostasy Debate

In 2007, a Muslim convert to Christianity, Mohammed Hegazy (24), applied to have his identity card changed. Not only was it his desire that his ID card reflect reality, he did not want his unborn child to be automatically deemed Muslim from birth. When his application was declined, Hegazy sued the Interior Ministry for his constitutional right to religious freedom (Article 46 ).

The court ruled against Hegazy on the grounds that Sharia prohibits apostasy. Death threats rang out and Hegazy, his wife and new born daughter were forced to retreat "underground", driven into hiding, to a life on the run.

In August 2008, Maher el-Gowhary stepped up in defence of Christian freedom for the sake of his own daughter, Dina (14). El-Gowhary (55), who had quietly converted to Christianity 35 years earlier, wanted his true religious identity acknowledged and his ID card corrected before his daughter turned 16. For when Dina turned 16 the state would issue her with a Muslim ID card that would condemn her to a double life and rob her of her freedom.

Religious leaders issues fatwas calling for the blood of Hegazy and el-Gowhary to be shed. In September 2008 the two men were shot at and only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

In June 2009, the court ruled against el-Gowhary on the grounds that Sharia prohibits apostasy and conversions would pose a threat to the "public order". When el-Gowhary and his daughter subsequently tried to leave Egypt, their passports were confiscated.

As Mary Abdelmassih reports, the el-Gowhary's plight and the Islamic totalitarianism of Egypt became more widely known, nationally and internationally, after Dina wrote to President Obama, pleading for help. (Dina was clearly unaware that Obama was powerless to help her since the global financial crash of August 2008 had largely robbed the US International Freedom from Religious Persecution Act 1998 of its economic leverage.) Subsequently, in April 2010, Dina was attacked with acid which caused the jacket she was wearing to ignite. Fortunately she was with her father who rescued her so that she was able to survive unharmed.

In early July, Maher el-Gowhary told ZDF German TV: "We live in constant fear ever since radical shaikhs have called for my blood to be shed because I left Islam. We are mostly afraid of the uneducated people on the street, our future is ruined. We are discriminated against; I do not believe that we will receive justice."

On 5 July 2010, as Maher el-Gowhary was walking with his lawyer, he was ambushed by militants who abused him as an apostate, shouted 'Allahu Akbar', and stabbed him several times in the neck. Despite being seriously wounded, Maher el-Gowhary is too afraid of the authorities to go to hospital.

See: Muslim Egyptian Girl Who Converted to Christianity Subjected to Acid Attack
by Mary Abdelmassih, AINA, 17 April 2010-07-14
AND
Muslims Attempt to Behead Apostate in Egypt
Written by Mary Abdelmassih, 08 July 2010

It is unsurprising that el-Gowhary, a peaceful and honest man, is afraid of the authorities, for Egyptian police are infamous for their corruption and brutality. They routinely torture with impunity (even promotion!).

NAGLA AL-IMAM

Late last year, Nagla Al-Imam (36) -- an Egyptian attorney, Sharia expert and prominent human rights activist -- publically announced that she had converted from Islam to Christianity. Nagla was subsequently abandoned by her husband, her family and her friends. She lost her source of income as she lost her attorney's license and Egypt's State Security Administration confined her to house arrest.

In early July 2010, Egyptian security officials took Nagla Al-Imam into custody, bashed and threatened her. She responded on 8 July by posting a video to the internet of herself (bruised and battered) and her two young children singing a Christian lament wherein Christ's comforting and strengthening presence is requested through the high waves of persecution.

According to reports, Nagla Al-Imam and her children subsequently "disappeared", and Al-Tarek, which is the TV station Nagla al-Imam broadcasts from, was vandalised by Egyptian security forces.

This is what happens when Islamic totalitarianism meets Christian freedom.

Islam -- a religion of peace, love and human rights? I don't think so.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bekasi, West Java (Indonesia): dhimmitude or death

Many analysts are warning that the situation in Bekasi, West Java, threatens to deteriorate into religious war similar to that which convulsed Central Sulawesi and Maluku between January 1999 and February 2002. It must be noted though that those conflicts occurred on Indonesia's periphery where the Muslim-Christian demographic is around 50-50. If war/jihad against Christians erupts in Bekasi, which is 98 percent Muslim and only 15km east of Jakarta in densely populated West Java, it will be a totally different scenario altogether. This is a most serious situation. Tensions are rising and preparations are in motion. All it awaits is a trigger.

As noted in my post of 30 June 2010, Fitna and Apostaphobia in Bekasi, on Sunday 27 June Islamic fundamentalist leaders at the Bekasi Islamic Congress demanded the city administration of Bekasi, West Java, enact Sharia (Islamic) laws so as to 'limit' apostasy. They also proposed that every mosque in Bekasi establish its own paramilitary unit ('laskar') that can be quickly mobilised for war against Christians if "Christianisation" is not halted in line with Muslim demands.

Like the Laskar Jihad before it, the Islamic Defenders Front reportedly has TNI (Indonesian military) support.

On Monday 28 June, militants belonging to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) raided a restaurant in Banyuwangi, East Java, where legislators were running a health bill familiarisation program. FPI secretary general, Awit Mashuri, defended the FPI's actions, telling TVOne that the FPI is not a law unto itself and always "coordinates" with state apparatus before taking any action. According to Awit, on this occasion the FPI's intelligence came from a "district military intelligence unit". The FPI claimed the raid was necessary to destroy an illegal meeting of "Communists".

See: FPI admits military’s role in Bayuwangi raid
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Friday 2 July 2010.

Outraged Indonesian legislators called for the FPI to be banned. However, others simply recommended rule of law, noting that if the FPI is banned other groups will just emerge in its place. The legislators demanded that police, with strong support from the president, must act decisively to apprehend all lawbreakers. Furthermore, full investigations must be conducted in the event of any militia-related attacks, and the investigations must be kept open to the public. They also recommended that any politicians or businessmen found orchestrating these attacks must face punishment.

This issue, of whether or not the government is prepared to enforce the law in the face of rising Islamic fundamentalism, belligerence and "talibanisation", is the watershed issue on which the future of Indonesia balances.

According to Eva Kusuma Sundari, an Indonesian MP with the Democratic Party of Struggle, "There is information saying the FPI is a pet of the TNI [Indonesian military], and the police hesitate to deal face-to-face with the military, because police consider the armed forces their elder brother"' Of course the Defence Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. I Wayan Midhio denied the allegation, maintaining that all TNI were "professional soldiers who obey the law".

Eva Kusuma Sundari has also learned that the FPI was registered and listed as a "mass organisation" in 2006 under Home Ministry Decree No. 69/ D111.3/VIII/2006, so it cannot be banned without an appeal to the Supreme Court. "This means the ministry also has blood on their hands," she said.

See: Legislator: FPI has the military backing
By Hans David Tampubolon and Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 30 June 2010

Muslim militias prepare for war

Associated Press reports that on Saturday 3 July some 100 jihadist recruits turned out for an inaugural military training exercise in an open field in Bekasi. "We're doing this because we want to strike fear in the hearts of Christians who behave in such a way," said Murhali Barda, who heads the local chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front, which pushes for the implementation of Islamic-based laws in Bekasi and other parts of the archipelagic nation. "If they refuse to stop what they're doing, we're ready to fight."

One Bekasi mosque has erected an enormous banner that reads "Death penalty for Andreas Dusly Sanau . . ." and pictures the young local Protestant pastor with his head in a flaming noose.
"The government must protect all citizens from anarchist action as mandated by the constitution," said Priest Andreas Yewangoe, a chairman of the Communion of Indonesian Churches told the Associated Press.

But the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reluctant to act against the Islamic fundamentalists because it is dependent upon the support of Islamic parties in the parliament. With the Islamic parties holding the balance of power, nobody, especially the ruling party, can afford to be deemed "un-Islamic".

"I really see this as a threat to democracy," said Arbi Sanit, a political analyst analyst at the University of Indonesia. "Being popular is more important to them [politicians] than punishing those who are clearly breaking the law."

Catholic news agency Fides agrees: "Radicals of the FPI ('Front Pembela Islam,' Islamic Defense Front), are exploiting the fact that the weak, corruption-wracked central government is dependent upon Muslim support and fearful of Islamic belligerence."

Fr. Emmanuel Harja, priest of the Diocese of Jakarta and Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Indonesia told Fides: "It's often violent militants who openly encourage hostility against all Christians. We ask the government to stop them and ensure freedom of religion and faith in all religious communities. It's a matter of justice and respect for fundamental rights."

Blaming Protestant "fanatics"

Jesuit Fr. Ignazio Ismartono is the director of the Indonesian Bishops' Crisis Reconciliation Service Conference told Fides: "The Church's line is this: not to react on her own to the provocation by radicals, but to always seek ecumenical fellowship and full harmony and cooperation of other religious leaders, starting with Muslims. . ."

However, according to Fr. Ismartono -- who, in 2007, Fides described as "the vice president of the Bishops' Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and a tireless builder of Muslim-Christian relations" -- the root cause of the problem is "the relationship between Islamic groups and Protestant Christian groups, within their spheres of action and influence. At the basis of it is the question of human relationships and respect for others. Every religious community should not propagate their faith so fanatically. This approach only leads to a reaction of fanaticism in other communities. It's a vicious circle that we must emerge from. Today, the important thing is to let tensions cool down and hope that through common sense, everything can get back on the track of peaceful coexistence."

Fr Ismartono is doubtless trying to distance the Catholic Church from the Protestants with whom the Islamic fundamentalists have taken issue. But what is he saying exactly? This seductive, fine-sounding statement deserves closer scrutiny.

Firstly he is saying that we must accept that religions have established (albeit unspoken and unofficial) "spheres of action and influence". According to Islam, Christians have no right to witness to Muslims, for once a person is officially recognised as Muslim they belong to Islam's sphere of influence and have no automatic right to hear any other truth claim or choose their own religion (i.e. no religious liberty). Meanwhile, the scriptures say: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV) It appears that the Bishop has adopted the Islamic model.

Concerning Fr Ismartono's implication that Christian should have respect for "others", we can only assume that he asking the Protestants to respect the demands of the apostaphobic dictators of Islam. Of course Christ's ambassadors are motivated by respect. It is this respect, indeed compassionate love, for Indonesia's lost Muslim masses -- many of whom who have worldviews more aligned to Christianity than Islam to start with -- that compels these Protestants to share the gospel of grace despite the risks (2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2).

If Fr Ismartono is going to accuse the Protestants -- who are now threatened with death by jihad -- of "fanatic" propagation of their faith, and blame the crisis on them, then he might need to define "fanatic" and furnish us with some examples as evidence that this "fanaticism" actually exists as a serious problem. I would suggest that Fr Ismartono's definition of a "fanatic" might turn out to be someone who is resisting dhimmitude (subjugation under Islam) and persisting in Christian freedom in the face of Islamic totalitarianism.

Fr Ismartono also implied that the Muslim fanaticism that is threatening to shed Christian blood in Bekasi is only a reaction to Protestant fanaticism with the gospel. The reality however, is that the Islamic fanaticism surfacing in Bekasi is merely part of the global revival of intolerant, jihadist and revolutionary, fundamentalist Islam.

Fr Ismartono needs to explain how then should Christians live? What should Christians do so as to enable "peaceful coexistence"? What should Christians do so as to avoid invoking Islamic fanaticism against the church?

Mind you, the answers might read like a Middle Ages handbook for dhimmitude. And this is the problem with so much Muslim-Christian Dialogue -- it tends to revolve around Christians, responding to unspoken threats of terror, making concessions towards dhimmitude in the hope that the Muslims won't kill them.

But dhimmitude is not the solution.

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1 ESV)