Indonesia

World Watch ranking: 42
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Leader
President Joko Widodo

How many Christians?
34.6 million (12.3%)

Main threat
  • Islamic oppression

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How many Christians are there in Indonesia?

There are 34.6 million Christians in Indonesia – a large number, but only around 12% of the country’s population. There are more Muslims in Indonesia than any other country in the world.

How are Christians persecuted in Indonesia?

The situation for Christians has been deteriorating in the course of recent years, with Indonesian society increasingly influenced by conservative interpretations of Islam. Polls regularly show that young people, especially, hold conservative views, and by-laws on Islamic dress are becoming more common.

The primary hotbed of persecution in Indonesia is the Aceh Province, the only province that is governed by Sharia (Islamic law). Building new churches is difficult there, and converts from Islam face the most pressure of any other place in the country. A recent decision by the legislature has also stoked fears that Sharia could eventually be adopted in the province of West Sumatra.

Meet 'Raymond'

"They poke fun at us Christians. I don’t take offence. I’m just used to hearing this." Raymond (name changed), a young believer who attended a camp for Christian children

What’s life like for Christians in Indonesia?

Generally speaking, Indonesian converts from Islam face the most pressure and risk for their faith. 

Many converts from Islam experience pressure from their families. However, the intensity of the pressure depends on the individual family and place. Most pressure for Christian converts takes the form of isolation, verbal abuse and ostracism. The pressure is also higher in places like West Java or Aceh, where radical Islamic groups exert a heavy influence on society and politics.

If a church is thought to be engaging in outreach in their community, they are likely to run into opposition from radical Islamic groups. Depending on the region, some church groups also face difficulties getting permission for building churches.

Prominent male figures like Christian pastors and activists are the primary targets for public religious discrimination. They can face accusations, interrogations and may have to stand trial for charges such as ‘inciting religious hatred’. Blasphemy laws in the country have reportedly been used to create an environment of religious intolerance and stifle dissent, though pastors rarely stand trial. 

Women who convert to Christianity can face violence, psychological abuse and death threats if their faith is discovered by their families. They’re also marginalised through enforced religious dress codes; if they refuse to wear a head covering, they may face bullying and interrogation.

Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Indonesia?

Although the country has dropped nine places on the World Watch List, the situation for Christians in Indonesia hasn't changed much, although there were fewer reports of violence after dozens of radical Muslims were arrested.

How can I help Christians in Indonesia?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Indonesia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors local partners strengthen persecuted Christians in Indonesia by providing Bibles and Christian books, socio-economic empowerment projects, discipleship and persecution survival training and relief aid.

please pray

Heavenly Father, we pray for our sisters and brothers in Indonesia. Where there is fear, let there be peace. Where there is mourning, let there be joy. Where there is sorrow, let there be hope. We particularly pray for believers who risk losing their communities because they've chosen to follow You out of Islam. We pray that churches would be given permission to build places of worship, and that Your people would see Your hand at work in Indonesia and in their lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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