Indonesian Muslims Fear Christianization
- Indonesian Muslims Fear Christianization
By Daniel Hummel, IOL Correspondent
Wed. Jun. 27, 2007
JAKARTA Indonesian Muslims are worried about a
growing Christianization drive in the world's most
populous Muslim country led by Indonesian Chinese, the
"The missionaries ability to come and give food as
well as other services coupled with government
corruption in providing alternatives allows this
problem to swell," Dr. Mohammad Siddiq, Executive
Director of Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia, told
He believes that Christianization is a major problem
persisting in Indonesia and that one of its chief
reasons is poverty.
Siddiq, whose group leads the fight against this
drive, said Christians use social services to spread
He added that tsunami-ravaged Aceh was a prime example
with missionaries pouring into the area to deliver aid
and their message.
The same pattern occurred in other places including
Yogyakarta after a devastating earthquake last year.
Siddiq said people disaffected by abject poverty
coupled with frequent natural disasters and little
knowledge about their own religion have created
The PKS, an Islamic political and social activist
group, says Indonesians are very open and accepting
people, thus easily influenced.
If someone comes and treats Indonesians well, giving
them money, jobs and food as some missionary groups
do, their heart becomes attached to the person.
"The Indonesians think with their heart, if you win
their heart you win their soul," said one PKS
Many Indonesian Muslims look up for wealthy Muslim
countries to help them withstand such temptations.
Islam entered Indonesia via trade with Arabs, Mughal
Indians and Zheng He, the Chinese navigator during the
Roughly a century after Islam arrived, Christian
missionaries did too.
This culminated in the colonization of most of the
archipelago by the Dutch for 350 years until
Independence in 1945.
Christianity experienced an exponential growth that
peaked in the 1960s and 70s when over a relatively
short period of time millions converted to
Dr. Fatimah Husein, an Indonesian lecturer at State
Islamic University in Yogyakarta, attributed the mass
conversions to the events following the Communist coup
and its suppression in 1965.
Many Communists seeking acceptance were quickly
welcomed by the Christians, she concluded in her
thesis Muslim-Christian Relations in the New Order
Husein cites comparative Indonesian State Statistics
based on censuses in 1971 and 1990.
In 1971, Muslims made up 87.5 percent of the
Indonesian populace and Christians 7.5 percent.
In 1990, the Muslim percentage went down slightly to
87.2 while the Christian increased by 2.1 percent to
Today, Christian missionaries are as active as they
have ever been.
Indigenous Christians and Chinese immigrants who
converted to Christianity during the Dutch occupation
make up the bulk of the missionary effort.
With privileges under the Dutch that they continued to
enjoy under Indonesian dictator Soeharto, Chinese
Christians have accumulated great economic powers.
Malls host public speeches on Christian topics as well
as Christmas celebrations, while giving little
recognition to Islamic holidays.
Most of those building and managing these malls are
Christians of Chinese descent.
One example is the newest mall built in Jakarta,
Senayan City Mall, which has a church on its top
The mall, built and managed by Manggala Gelora
Perkasa, offers a large public space of attraction to
Questions directed to the mall about the placement of
a church inside were avoided and never responded to.
The Catholic Church has 57 churches in the capital
Another example of concealed missionary is evident in
the healthcare sector.
One of the largest financial blocs in Indonesia
belongs to the Lippo Group of Mochtar Riady, a
Christian and Chinese.
The Group has holdings in many different markets, with
healthcare comprising a quarter of their earnings.
Their line of hospitals, called Siloam Hospitals
(Siloam is the Indonesian version of Shalom for the
Jewish greeting or in Indonesia the Christian version
of Salam), offers international standard healthcare.
The hospitals are overtly Christian given the name and
the symbol being the Cross.
Many Muslims frequent these hospitals and have often
been cited as grounds for proselytizing.
Dr. Husein insists that Christians in Indonesia cannot
be viewed as one bloc and that there are many groups
with different views about proselytizing.
"There are groups in Christianity, as well as in
Islam, who are more hardliners and they might have
the agenda to Christianize Indonesia as part of their
religious mission," she told IOL.
"However, I think Muslims have to be cautious that
even amongst the Christians themselves there are
disagreements as to how to spread their religions."