Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting

07/21/2010 14:09

INDONESIA
Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting
Mathias Hariyadi
More than 500 blocked the entrance to the field where the function was being held. The Huria Protestant Church celebrates in the open because their prayer hall was declared illegal. Thanks to the police, there were no consequences for the faithful.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church (Hkbp) in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).

Muslims blocked all routes to prevent Christians leaving the field and began to insult them, terrorizing them. The group of Protestant believers pray outdoors because their hall for religious functions was closed on the grounds that it was illegal.

The situation improved when a representative of the Bekasi Office for Religious Affairs, along with 200 policemen, arrived at the site.  Luspida Simanjutak, head pastor at the Hkbp church, told AsiaNews: ” We were forced to sign a pact with them, forcing us to stop our faith celebration but we strongly rejected the proposal. We asked the representative to help our congregation to leave the site without harm. Their goal is one and one alone, to eradicate all churches from Mustika Jaya”.

It is not the first time that the Hkbp church was targeted by Islamic extremists. “At Pondok Timur – continued the pastor – the Muslims have forced local government to outlaw the place where we held our services. They’ve already done so twice”.

That’s why different Hkbp communities decided to hold their services in an open field. Theopilus Bella an activist for interfaith dialogue, believes the incident last Sunday was premeditated. “Many of the faithful – he tells AsiaNews – received text messages from Islamic extremists which warned them of what they would do” and what in fact happened.

Despite threats by Islamic Rev. Simanjutak says that her community will continue to recite the Mass in the same place.

For years the Christians of Bekasi have been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists. Early in 2010, radical groups blocked religious services, prevented Christians from access to existing churches and stopped the construction of new churches. Since 2009, more than 17 churches have been affected by Islamic extremists. The Hkbp church, besides having to close its premises many times because deemed “illegal” in 2010, suffered the destruction of a church in 2004, after receiving permission to construct it.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Bekasi,-insults-and-threats-from-Islamic-extremists-at-a-Protestant-prayer-meeting-18994.html#

Advertisements

Tifatul chided for lingking sex tape to crucifixion

Tifatul chided for linking sex tape scandal to crucifixion

(19/6/10)Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring has spent most of the past two days fending off an onslaught of Twitter attacks after he compared a sex tape controversy to the theological debate between Christians and Muslims about the death of Jesus Christ.

He said Thursday during a breakfast meeting at his office that the public debate over the sex tapes featuring people resembling singer Nazril “Ariel” Irham, TV presenter Luna Maya and celebrity Cut Tari was like the dispute between Muslims, who believe that Jesus Christ was not crucified but rather that someone resembling him was, and Christians, who believe that Jesus Christ was crucified.

The celebrities have claimed the persons in the sex videos are not them.  

Tifatul said that confirming the identity of the persons in the tapes was very important to avoid adverse impacts in the future like those emerging from the different views of Muslims and Christians. He did not elaborate on the impacts of the theological discord between the world’s two largest religions.

One Twitter message directed at the minister from the account “@Williamalwijaya” asked: “What is the relationship between Ariel and the Catholic followers of God? Were you drunk when you said that?”.
Tifatul tweeted back, “You had better not quote people’s words partially, that makes you look like a drunk person”.

Tifatul also wrote to another of his Twitter criticizers, “@artjie”, “I’m explaining the point of view of Muslims on Prophet Isa and of the Christians on Jesus Christ, you can ask theologists about this.”

He also tried to clarify the context of his statements to “@nafaurbach” by saying, “Muslims believe that Prophet Isa wasn’t crucified, that it was someone ‘resembling’ him, while Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified”.

A Catholic priest from the Indonesian Bishops Council, Father Beni Susetyo, said that as a public official, Tifatul Sembiring should not compare a pornography scandal to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, because it could hurt the feelings of believers. “There is no connection between pornography and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at all,” he told The Jakarta Post.

He criticized the minister for showing a lack of appreciation for beliefs other than his own in such a diverse country as Indonesia.

This is the second time that Tifatul has sparked a controversy on Twitter. In April, he tweeted a quote from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. He wrote, “The union between two children, when both of them complete each other, this is magic – Adolf Hitler”.

This posting drew the ire of many members of the public, who complained the minister had shown a lack of respect for the millions of people killed in the genocide perpetrated under Nazi leadership during World War II. (the Jakarta post)

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

By Hannah Beech / Temanggung

 

They flocked to the open field by the hundreds to praise Allah. In a village in central Java, just a few miles from where Indonesian special forces shot dead an Islamic terrorist linked to the fatal July bombings of two hotels in Jakarta, worshippers raised their hands to the heavens. But this ceremony, which took place as the call of the muezzin echoed in the sultry air, was not a celebration of Islam. Instead, in the heart of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Christians held a Pentecostal revival, complete with faith healing and speaking in tongues. As a tropical downpour fell, believers’ tears mixed with rain — and a line of sick and disabled took to the stage to claim they had been cured by a God they, like Indonesian Muslims, call Allah. “People think Indonesia is just a Muslim country, but look at all these people,” says pastor David Nugroho, whose Gesing church boasts a congregation of 400 worshippers today, up from 30 when it was founded in 1967. “We are not afraid to show our faith.”

A religious revolution is transforming Indonesia. Part of the spiritual blossoming entails Muslims embracing a more conservative form of faith, mirroring global trends that have meant a proliferation of headscarves and beards in modern Islamic capitals. More surprising, though, is the boom in Christianity — officially Indonesia’s second largest faith and a growing force throughout Asia. Indeed, the number of Asian Christian faithful exploded to 351 million adherents in 2005, up from 101 million in 1970, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, based in Washington, D.C. (See pictures of spiritual healing around the world.)

Much of the growth comes from Pentecostal and Evangelical conversions, which have spread charismatic Christianity across the globe and are a large reason for estimates that by 2050 a majority of Christians will be living in developing nations. Already, less than a quarter of the world’s 600 million Pentecostals reside in the West, where the modern movement has its roots. Indeed, Pentecostalism is believed by some to be the fastest-growing faith in the world, if measured by conversions as opposed to births.

Because of the relative youth of these Evangelical sects, they are less bound by the history of colonial conversion that has complicated the legacy of, say, Roman Catholicism or mainstream Protestantism. Instead, by focusing on personal salvation adapted to local environments, Evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, have found great success across Asia in recent years, from Indian metropolises like Chennai to rural China where homegrown sects are drawing in tens of thousands of people each year. The world’s largest megachurch is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, which claims a membership of 830,000 people. Its Pentecostal Sunday services regularly attract a quarter of a million people to an upscale neighborhood of Seoul. In poorer regions of Asia, as well as within many ethnic Chinese communities, converts are lured by the so-called prosperity gospel, an American theology linked to charismatic Christianity that promises riches to those who follow a moral path. (See “The Biology of Belief.”)

For many in the global Evangelical community, though, it is the faith’s inroads in Indonesia — a nation with some 215 million Muslim adherents — that are most riveting. Exact figures are hard to gather in a country where conversions from Islam to Christianity face a stigma and likely lead to an underreporting of Christian believers. The 2000 census counted just under 10% of Indonesians as Christians, a figure many Christian leaders believe is too low. Anecdotal evidence paints a compelling picture of the faith’s rapid rise. In the early 1960s, for instance, there were no Evangelical churches in Temanggung, where the soccer-field revival took place; now there are more than 40. In the capital Jakarta, newly built megachurches that might seem more at home in Texas send steeples into the sky. Other Christians worship at unofficial churches based in hotels and malls, where Sunday services rival shopping as a popular weekend activity. Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ, built in 2007, presides over Manado city in eastern Indonesia, while Indonesian cable TV beams 24-hour Christian channels.

State of Grace — and Disgrace
What is it about Evangelical Christianity that has so resonated in Indonesia? As in many other crowded, developing-world countries where a person can feel lost in a teeming slum, the concept of individual salvation is a powerful one. At the same time, the attempted hijacking of Muslim theology by a small band of homegrown terrorists who have killed hundreds of Indonesians in recent years has led some to question their nation’s majority faith. So, too, has the general trend toward a more conservative Islam that has given rise to hundreds of religiously inspired bylaws, from caning for beer-drinking to enforced dress codes for women.

Not everyone, though, is celebrating Christianity’s boom. Some Muslims view the faith as an unwanted foreign influence, even though Islam, too, is an imported religion. Since the country exchanged dictatorship for democracy more than a decade ago, a great diversity of voices has arisen. But an unfortunate byproduct of this pluralism has been an uptick in religious conflict, which has affected unorthodox offshoots of Islam and Christian sects alike. Although bloody outpourings — like the communal riots that claimed more than 1,000 Christian and Muslim lives in Poso and Ambon around a decade ago — have ceased, spasms of violence are still occurring.

See “Finding God on YouTube.”

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

Over the past couple of years, Christian groups say, dozens of churches and theological academies have been destroyed or forced to shut by Islamic groups who accuse Christians of stealing believers from Muslim ranks. Despite appointing prominent Christians to his Cabinet, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said little to defend religious minorities, and has remained silent as dozens of local governments pass Islamic-based laws that threaten Christian rights. Such moves “conflict with the constitution and have the potential to threaten freedom of religion in this country,” according to Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, a Jakarta-based NGO that promotes pluralism.

Last year, the Indonesia Ulema Council, an influential Islamic clerical body, sounded the alarm about Christian proselytization and called on Muslims to more staunchly guard their faith. The pace with which unlicensed churches are being shut down by local authorities is also increasing. Christians complain that gaining official sanction to build a mosque is easy while getting similar permission for churches is glacial. As a consequence, most Christian houses of worship are unofficial. “There is a real fear that Christianity is on the march,” says Mike Hilliard, a Scottish minister who with his Indonesian wife runs an orphanage outside Jakarta that has been targeted by militant Muslims. “Because of this fear, emotions are easily stirred up and mobs can form quickly.” (See pictures of colorful religious festivals.)

Defenders of faith have mobilized in neighboring Malaysia too. After a local court ruled on Dec. 31 that a Malaysian Christian newspaper could refer to the Christian deity as Allah, many Muslims, who constitute the multiethnic country’s majority, protested. Christians professed puzzlement: when speaking Malay, they had used the word Allah for centuries — why the sudden outrage now? Prominent Islamic activists responded by saying that sharing one word for two different gods could lead some Muslims to unwittingly stray to Christianity. By January, passions had spilled onto holy turf, with around a dozen churches, one mosque and a Sikh temple attacked. Late that month, eight people were arrested for suspected roles in the firebombing of a Pentecostal church in the capital of Kuala Lumpur.

As both Muslims and Christians more fervently express their faith, a kind of spiritual siloing is developing in Southeast Asia, in contrast to the sectarian mixing that often characterized relations in previous generations. “Even compared to five years ago, relations between Christians and Muslims have worsened,” says Father Andang Binawan, a Roman Catholic priest in Jakarta who holds a Ph.D. in theology from a Belgian university. “Many people now, including government officials, feel pressure by society to identify themselves as good Muslims and they worry that by associating with people of other religions, they will be seen as less pious. Even saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a Christian can be seen as a problem.” (See “Indonesia Faces Muslim Pressure.”)

At the same time, aggressive proselytization by Evangelical groups, both foreign and local, leads to accusations that Christians are hungry for souls — and church donations. Website and sermon invectives, in which some Christian preachers dismiss Muslims as terrorists, also feed a prejudicial cycle that is spinning both sides away from Indonesia’s pluralistic underpinnings. (Unlike neighboring Malaysia, which was set up as a Muslim state — although one that guarantees minority religious rights — Indonesia recognizes six official faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.) “We have many [religions], and they all coexist peacefully,” President Yudhoyono told TIME last November. “This is the capital we will use to show that a clash of civilizations can be prevented.” But even as he spoke, Christian theological students were staging a sit-in on a busy Jakarta street to protest having been intimidated into evacuating their campus after threats from Muslim mobs. A clash of civilizations seemed to be exactly what was taking place.

Raising Spirits
To get to the hip-hop concert, you have to walk through a five-star hotel’s lobby, go past a parking lot and take a cramped elevator ride to the 12th floor. There, in an anonymous Jakarta annex syncopated by a purple strobe light, Indonesian youths dance for Jesus. The congregation bops to the beat, waving their arms in the air as the lyrics implore them to let their “lives be a celebration” of Jesus’ love. After pastor Jose Carol takes to the stage, some worshippers whip out their iPhones, onto which they have loaded electronic copies of the Bible. Back when the Jakarta Praise Community Church formed a decade ago, only a couple hundred people attended its services; today the congregation has grown to 5,500 mostly young urbanites.

See the top 10 religion stories.

See the top 10 Jesus films of all time.

A few hours earlier, in Jakarta’s Kemayoran business district, parishioners gathered in the main auditorium of the Evangelical Reformed Millennium Center, which seats more than 4,500 people. Above the crowds, a pair of giant TV screens broadcast the sermon of Stephen Tong, an Indonesian pastor who conducts weekly services throughout Asia — including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong — and ministers to a regional congregation that has grown to 15,000 in just two decades. Opened in 2008, the church complex cost $30 million to build — and it took 17 years to obtain permission from local authorities. The privately funded church is the largest licensed one in the capital, although an unofficial megachurch with space for 10,000 faithful is nearing completion in a Jakarta suburb. When Tong, 69, raised a crucifix onto the church’s massive steeple, worshippers at a nearby mosque complained. Tong didn’t back down. “Jakarta has 1.2 million Christians, so a church for 4,000 people is nothing,” he says. “We did this all legally, so why can’t we put a cross on our church, just like mosques have their symbol?”

Other Indonesian Christians worry that such towering icons will only serve to inflame Muslim sentiment. The dangers are all too real. Take the hundreds of students from the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology, who staged the November sit-in. They were subsisting in refugee-like conditions, sleeping on thin mats in an abandoned Jakarta building with no electricity or running water. Before that, the beleaguered students lived for months in a park, 35 to a tent. Yet on the outskirts of east Jakarta, the Christian college actually had a handsome campus. In July 2008, hundreds of Islamic extremists crowded the school’s gates, accusing students of proselytizing among the local Muslim community — a charge the institute’s leaders deny. When three students tried to escape, thugs threw acid in their faces. With local government officials advising the student population to decamp because of continuing danger, Arastamar officials had no choice but to accept the government’s proposal for makeshift housing. “How can you say there is true freedom of religion here if things like this can happen to us?” asks school principal Jusup Lifire. (See 10 surprising facts about the world’s oldest Bible.)

Muslim converts to Christianity are also targets, their apostasy viewed by some radical Islamic scholars as deserving of execution. Syaiful Hamzah grew up as the madrasah-attending son of a Muslim family in Jakarta that helped build the neighborhood mosque. But while working in eastern Indonesia’s Maluku archipelago, which has a substantial Christian population, he was swayed by Evangelical teachings. By 2000, he had been baptized at a Pentecostal church and returned to Jakarta to begin theological studies. His family cut him off; one brother threatened to burn his house down. Undeterred, he began lay-preaching to a house-church congregation in his modest home near Jakarta’s port. In 2008, a mob armed with clubs showed up and demanded Syaiful stop. He shuttered his church but still guides Muslim converts to Christianity, the number of which he says is growing, in part, because of the terror attacks unleashed in Indonesia in the name of Islam. “So many have converted,” he says, “but they are afraid to say so publicly because Muslims will harass them.”

The numbers of converts may not be as high as Islamic groups fear. Some so-called converts were Christians all along. In the 1960s, a government anticommunist drive forced each citizen to pick a religion for inclusion on their national ID card. (Suspected communists were quick to pick a religion to convince authorities they were not atheist Marxists.) Worried about future persecution and loath to give up the chance for certain career opportunities reserved for Muslims, some Christians chose Islam for their ID cards, even though they quietly kept going to church. Now they’re officially switching to their true religion, seeing safety in growing numbers. Another significant group of Indonesian converts to charismatic sects is ethnic Chinese. But they are abandoning Chinese religions or mainline Protestantism, not Islam. (See “Indonesia’s Fatwa Against Yoga.”)

still, it’s hard to ignore the power of a revival like the one held in Temanggung — and easy to understand why some Muslims have reservations about encroaching Christianity. Permission to hold the meeting was only granted after the organizers put up a sign forbidding Muslims from entering. Nevertheless, among the line of sick and suffering hoping to be healed was an elderly Muslim man who others said was blind. After fervent prayers from worshippers in the driving rain, he suddenly blinked and gazed at the gathered crowd. “A Muslim who can now see,” said pastor Jason Balompapueng, tears rising in his eyes. “It is a miracle.” The faithful urged the tottering man onstage to bear witness to his regained sight. As the man clambered up the stairs, he removed his peci, an Indonesian fezlike hat often associated with Islam. A visiting minister from Jakarta blessed him. Another soul was saved, the Christian pastor rejoiced. Tomorrow, he vowed, there would be more.

With reporting by Jason Tedjasukmana / Jakarta

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

See the Cartoons of the Week.

Find this article at:

Discussion: Do you think that religion can create terrorism?

Pormadi has begin a discussion on mylot.com, here is the discussion:

Do you think that religion could create a terrorism? I do not want to say that certain religion. Every single religion have potentiality to create a terrorism. How do you think?

Sunny68:

I do not agree with you. no religion can create terrorism. all religions are good both in content and intent. unfortunately some so called custodians of religions misinterpret and misuse religion for their own vested interests. history is full of events where wars have been waged in the name of religion but in reality were wars for land and wealth. empires were expanded in the name of religion but the benefit went to kings and so called custodians of religion.

Jis2507:

Religion cannot create terrorism.
Yeah, the media portrays (wrongly) Muslims as terrorists. This is very wrong and should stop.
Sure there are some extremeists but they do not speak for all Muslims.
There are extremists in every religion. I am a christian and let me tell you; there’s a such thing as Christian extremists.
The religion itself doesn’t create terrorists. It’s when the religion is taken completely out of proportion and not interpretted correctly, so no, religion cannot, will not, and should not create terrorism.

Ravenladyj:

Religion by itself doesnt and can’t for the most part but when combined with fanatics and ppl who misinterpret what any given religion tries to teach then yes it can….MIND YOU religion on its own comes very close to being able to create terrorism simply by how certain beliefs/rules etc are worded…Religion can, is and has been for centuries, the BASE of terrorism but the acts themselves fall strictly on the doorstep of man..

Pose123:

Hi pormadi, I don’t believe that any of the major religions of the world teach terrorism, in fact no religion that I know off does so. It is only when fanatics twist what religion is saying to mean something else that we have this problem. Blessings.

I think the problem is not a religion, but the people who do not understand the true teaching of a religion.

The Little Soul and The Sun

The Little Soul and The Sun

By Neale Donald Walsch

ONCE UPON NO TIME, there was a Little Soul who said to God, “I know who I am!”
And God said, “That’s wonderful! Who are you?”
And the Little Soul shouted, “I’m the Light!”
God smiled a big smile. “That’s right!” God exclaimed. “You are the Light.”
The Little Soul was so happy, for it had figured out what all the souls in the Kingdom were there to figure out.
“Wow,” said the Little Soul, “this is really cool!”
 
But soon, knowing who it was was not enough. The Little Soul felt stirrings inside, and now wanted to be who it was. And so the Little Soul went back to God (which is not a bad idea for all souls who want
to be Who They Really Are) and said,
“Hi, God! Now that I know Who I am, is it okay for me to be it?”
And God said, “You mean you want to be Who You Already Are?”
“Well,” replied the Little Soul,” it’s one thing to know Who I Am, and another thing altogether to actually be it. I want to feel what it’s like to be the Light!”
“But you already are the Light,” God repeated, smiling again.
“Yes, but I want to see what that feels like!” cried the Little Soul.
“Well,” said God with a chuckle, “I suppose I should have known. You always were the adventuresome one.”
 
Then God’s expression changed. “There’s only one thing…”
“What?” asked the Little Soul.
“Well, there is nothing else but the Light. You see, I created nothing but what you are; and so, there is no easy way for you to experience yourself as Who You Are, since there is nothing that you
are not.”
“Huh?” said the Little Soul, who was now a little confused.
“Think of it this way,” said God. “You are like a candle in the Sun. Oh, you’re there all right. Along with a million, ka-zillion other candles who make up the Sun. And the Sun would not be the Sun without
you. Nay, it would be a sun without one of its candles…and that would not be the Sun at all; for it would not shine as brightly. Yet, how to know yourself as the Light when you are amidst the Light – that
is the question.”
 “Well,” the Little Soul perked up, “you’re God. Think of something!”
Once more God smiled. “I already have,” God said. “Since you cannot see yourself as the Light when you are in the Light, we’ll surround you with darkness.”
“What’s darkness?” the Little Soul asked.
God replied, “It is that which you are not.”
“Will I be afraid of the dark?” cried the Little Soul.
“Only if you choose to be,” God answered. “There is nothing, really, to be afraid of, unless you decide that there is. You see, we are making it all up. We are pretending.”
“Oh,” said the Little Soul, and felt better already.
 
Then God explained that, in order to experience anything at all, the exact opposite of it will appear.
“It is a great gift,” God said, “because without it, you could not know what anything is like. You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow. You could not know Left without
Right, Here without There, Now without Then.”
 
“And so,” God concluded, “when you are surrounded with darkness,  not shake your fist and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather, be a Light unto the darkness, and don’t be mad about it. Then
you will know Who You Really Are, and all others will know, too. Let your Light shine so that everyone will know how special you are!”
 
“You mean it’s okay to let others see how special I am?” asked the Little Soul.
“Of course!” God chuckled. “It’s very okay! But remember, ‘special’ does not mean ‘better.’ Everybody is special, each in their own way! Yet many others have forgotten that. They will see that it is okay for them to be special only when you see that it is okay for you to be special.”
 
“Wow,” said the Little Soul, dancing and skipping and laughing and jumping with joy. “I can be as special as I want to be!”
“Yes, and you can start right now,” said God, who was dancing and skipping and laughing right along with the Little Soul.
“What part of special do you want to be?”
 “What part of special?” the Little Soul repeated. “I don’t understand.”
“Well,” God explained, “being the Light is being special, and being special has a lot of parts to it. It is special to be kind. It is special to be gentle. It is special to be creative. It is special to be patient. Can you think of any other ways it is special to be?”
 
The Little Soul sat quietly for a moment. “I can think of lots of ways to be special!” the Little Soul then exclaimed. “It is special to be helpful. It is special to be sharing. It is special to be friendly. It is special to be considerate of others!”
“Yes!” God agreed, “And you can be all of those things, or any part of special you wish to be, at any moment. That’s what it means to be the Light.”
 
“I know what I want to be, I know what I want to be!” the Little Soul announced with great excitement. “I want to be the part of special called ‘forgiving’. Isn’t it special to be forgiving?”
“Oh, yes,” God assured the Little Soul. “That is very special.”
“Okay,” said the Little Soul. “That’s what I want to be. I want to be forgiving. I want to experience myself as that.”
 
“Good,” said God, “but there’s one thing you should know.”
The Little Soul was becoming a bit impatient now. It always seemed as though there were some complication.
“What is it?” the Little Soul sighed.
“There is no one to forgive.”
“No one?” The Little Soul could hardly believe what had been said.
“No one!” God repeated. “Everything I have made is perfect. There is not a single soul in all creation less perfect than you. Look around you.”
It was then that the Little Soul realized a large crowd had gathered.
Souls had come from far and wide ~ from all over the Kingdom ~ for the word had gone forth that the Little Soul was having this extraordinary conversation with God, and everyone wanted to hear what
they were saying. Looking at the countless other souls gathered there, the Little Soul had to agree. None appeared less wonderful, less magnificent, or less perfect than the Little Soul itself. Such
was the wonder of the souls gathered around, and so bright was their Light, that the Little Soul could scarcely gaze upon them.
 
“Who, then, to forgive?” asked God.
“Boy, this is going to be no fun at all!” grumbled the Little Soul.
“I wanted to experience myself as One Who Forgives. I wanted to know what that part of special felt like.”
 
And the Little Soul learned what it must feel like to be sad.
But just then a Friendly Soul stepped forward from the crowd.
“Not to worry, Little Soul,” the Friendly Soul said, “I will help you.”
“You will?” the Little Soul brightened. “But what can you do?”
“Why, I can give you someone to forgive!”
“You can?”
“Certainly!” chirped the Friendly Soul. “I can come into your next lifetime and do something for you to forgive.”
 
“But why? Why would you do that?” the Little Soul asked. “You, who are a Being of such utter perfection! You, who vibrate with such a speed that it creates a Light so bright that I can hardly gaze upon you! What could cause you to want to slow down your vibration to such a speed that your bright Light would become dark and dense? What could cause you – who are so light that you dance upon the stars and move through the Kingdom with the speed of your thought – to come into my life and make yourself so heavy that you could do this bad thing?”
 
“Simple,” the Friendly Soul said. “I would do it because I love you.”
The Little Soul seemed surprised at the answer.
“Don’t be so amazed,” said the Friendly Soul, “you have done the same thing for me. Don’t you remember? Oh, we have danced together, you and I, many times. Through the eons and across all the ages have we danced. Across all time and in many places have we played together. You just don’t remember.”
 
“We have both been All Of It. We have been the Up and the Down of it, the Left and the Right of it. We have been the Here and the There of it, the Now and the Then of it. We have been the male and the female, the good and the bad; we have both been the victim and the villain of it.”
 “Thus have we come together, you and I, many times before; each bringing to the other the exact and perfect opportunity to Express and to Experience Who We Really Are. And so,” the Friendly Soul
explained further, “I will come into your next lifetime and be the ‘bad one’ this time. I will do something really terrible, and then you can experience yourself as the One Who Forgives.”
“But what will you do?” the Little Soul asked, just a little nervously, “that will be so terrible?”
“Oh,” replied the Friendly Soul with a twinkle, “we’ll think of something.”
 
Then the Friendly Soul seemed to turn serious, and said in a quiet voice, “You are right about one thing, you know.”
“What is that?” the Little Soul wanted to know.
“I will have to slow down my vibration and become very heavy to do this not-so-nice thing. I will have to pretend to be something very unlike myself. And so, I have but one favor to ask of you in return.”
“Oh, anything, anything!” cried the Little Soul, and began to dance and sing, “I get to be forgiving, I get to be forgiving!”
 
Then the Little Soul saw that the Friendly Soul was remaining very quiet.
“What is it?” the Little Soul asked. “What can I do for you? You are such an angel to be willing to do this for me!”
“Of course this Friendly Soul is an angel!” God interrupted.
“Everyone is! Always remember: I have sent you nothing but angels.”
 
And so the Little Soul wanted more than ever to grant the Friendly Soul’s request. “What can I do for you?” the Little Soul asked again.
“In the moment that I strike you and smite you,” the Friendly Soul replied, “in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could possible imagine – in that very moment…”
“Yes?” the Little Soul interrupted, “Yes…?”
“Remember Who I Really Am.”
“Oh, I will!” cried the Little Soul, “I promise! I will always remember you as I see you right here, right now!”
“Good,” said the Friendly Soul, “because, you see, I will have been pretending so hard, I will have forgotten myself. And if you do not remember me as I really am, I may not be able to remember for a very long time. And if I forget Who I Am, you may even forget Who You Are, and we will both be lost. Then we will need another soul to come along and remind us both of Who We Are.”
“No, we won’t!” the Little Soul promised again. “I will remember you! And I will thank you for bringing me this gift – the chance to experience myself as Who I Am.”
 
And so, the agreement was made. And the Little Soul went forth into a new lifetime, excited to be the Light, which was very special, and excited to be that part of special called Forgiveness. And the Little Soul waited anxiously to be able to experience itself as Forgiveness, and to thank whatever other soul made it possible. And at all the moments in that new lifetime, whenever a new soul appeared on the scene, whether that new soul brought joy or sadness – and especially if it brought sadness – the Little Soul thought of what God had said.
 “Always remember,” God had smiled,
“I have sent you nothing but angels.” ‘

Copy and paste from KWI miling list

Depok told to open dialogue over church

Following his decision to revoke a building permit for a church in Cinere, Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi Ismail is told to open room for dialogue to prevent potential conflicts, a noted Muslim scholar says.

“Nurmahmudi has to be open about the reason behind his decision [to revoke the building], since the decision has so far created more tension for Christians in the area,” Azyumardi Azra, a professor at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University told The Jakarta Post.

“Moreover, the decision will not only potentially affect the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the area, but also Christians with the local [Depok] administration.”

Azyumardi also urged Nurmahmudi to find a solution for the church congregation should he insist on revoking the church’s building permit.

“Relocating the church, for example, could be a viable solution for them,” he said.

On March 27, Nurmahmudi, also former president of the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), issued a municipal ordinance to cancel the building permit for a church in the Bukit Cinere Indah (BCI) residential complex in Depok, which belongs to the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) congregation.

The cancellation came as a response to a series of letters sent by the church construction committee last year asking the mayor about the status of the church.

In 1998, the committee received the church’s building permit from the administration, but left the land untouched for almost 10 years since former Depok mayor Badrul Kamal suggested the committee stop the church’s construction in May 1999, following a series of protests from locals.

In September 2008, the committee decided to continue building the church, but came to a standstill after dozens of Muslim residents from the Muslim Solidarity Forum (FSUI) attacked the workers and sealed the construction site.

After the attack, the committee sent three letters to Nurmahmudi asking the mayor to facilitate a dialogue, without receiving any response except the unexpected building permit cancellation.  
The HKBP, represented by lawyer Junimart Girsang, filed a lawsuit earlier this month to the State Administrative Court in Bandung, to get the revocation cancelled.

According to a 2007 Ministerial decree, a new house of worship must have the support of at least 90 congregation members, the consent of the local administration and at least 60 residents of different faiths.

Firdaus Amin, a BCI resident and a FSUI leader, said the residents in the complex would continue to stand in the way of the church’s construction, claiming the HKBP had manipulated the procedure to obtain the building permit.

“They faked the residents’ signatures to complete the administrative procedures,” said Firdaus, who has been living in the complex for 15 years.

Meanwhile, Betty Sitorus, the construction committee deputy head and also a resident in the complex, denied rumors that the church’s construction was an attempt to “Christianize” local residents.

“Our congregation only shelters the Batak community. We talk and preach in the Batak language. So how could we ‘Christianize’ the locals?” she said.  

Without their own church, the HKBP congregation, which currently has more than 350 families, have to borrow the Bahtera Allah church in Pangkalan Jati, Pondok Labu, South Jakarta to host masses. (hwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost .com/news/2009/05/13/depok-told-open-dialogue-over-church.html

Tortured To Death? US Interrogators Have Killed Dozens

By John Byrne

May 07, 2009 “Raw Story” — -United States interrogators killed nearly four dozen detainees during or after their interrogations, according a report published by a human rights researcher based on a Human Rights First report and followup investigations.

In all, 98 detainees have died while in US hands. Thirty-four homicides have been identified, with at least eight detainees — and as many as 12 — having been tortured to death, according to a 2006 Human Rights First report that underwrites the researcher’s posting. The causes of 48 more deaths remain uncertain.
The researcher, John Sifton, worked for five years for Human Rights Watch. In a posting Tuesday, he documents myriad cases of detainees who died at the hands of their US interrogators. Some of the instances he cites are graphic.
Most of those taken captive were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They include at least one Afghani soldier, Jamal Naseer, who was mistakenly arrested in 2004. “Those arrested with Naseer later said that during interrogations U.S. personnel punched and kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables,” Sifton writes. “Some said they were doused with cold water and forced to lie in the snow. Nasser collapsed about two weeks after the arrest, complaining of stomach pain, probably an internal hemorrhage.”
Another Afghan killing occurred in 2002. Mohammad Sayari was killed by four U.S. servicemembers after being detained for allegedly “following their movements.” A Pentagon document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2005 said that the Defense Department found a captain and three sergeants had “murdered” Sayari, but the section dealing with the department’s probe was redacted.
Perhaps the most macabre case occurred in Iraq, which was documented in a Human Rights First report in 2006.
“Nagem Sadoon Hatab… a 52-year-old Iraqi, was killed while in U.S. custody at a holding camp close to Nasiriyah,” the group wrote. “Although a U.S. Army medical examiner found that Hatab had died of strangulation, the evidence that would have been required to secure accountability for his death – Hatab’s body – was rendered unusable in court. Hatab’s internal organs were left exposed on an airport tarmac for hours; in the blistering Baghdad heat, the organs were destroyed; the throat bone that would have supported the Army medical examiner’s findings of strangulation was never found.”
In another graphic instance, a former Iraqi general was beaten by US forces and suffocated to death. The military officer charged in the death was given just 60 days house arrest.
“Abed Hamed Mowhoush [was] a former Iraqi general beaten over days by U.S. Army, CIA and other non-military forces, stuffed into a sleeping bag, wrapped with electrical cord, and suffocated to death,” Human Rights First writes. “In the recently concluded trial of a low-level military officer charged in Mowhoush’s death, the officer received a written reprimand, a fine, and 60 days with his movements limited to his work, home, and church.”
Another Iraqi man was killed in a US detention facility on Mosul in 2003.
“U.S. military personnel who examined Kenami when he first arrived at the facility determined that he had no preexisting medical conditions,” the rights group writes. “Once in custody, as a disciplinary measure for talking, Kenami was forced to perform extreme amounts of exercise—a technique used across Afghanistan and Iraq. Then his hands were bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs, he was hooded, and forced to lie in an overcrowded cell. Kenami was found dead the morning after his arrest, still bound and hooded. No autopsy was conducted; no official cause of death was determined. After the Abu Ghraib scandal, a review of Kenami’s death was launched, and Army reviewers criticized the initial criminal investigation for failing to conduct an autopsy; interview interrogators, medics, or detainees present at the scene of the death; and collect physical evidence. To date, however, the Army has taken no known action in the case.”
Death from interrogation is hard to separate from simple detainee death while in US custody. But one particular case stands out that seems to have fallen by the wayside — the murder of CIA “ghost” detainee named Manadel al-Jamadi, who was tortured to death by a CIA team at Abu Ghraib in 2003.
“Pictures of Abu Ghraib guards Charles Graner and Sabrina Harman posing with al-Jamadi’s dead body, the so-called Ice Man, were among the most notorious of the Abu Ghraib photographs published in April 2004,” Sifton notes. “A CIA officer named Mark Swanner and an interpreter led the team that interrogated al-Jamadi. Nine Navy personnel were also implicated. An autopsy conducted by the U.S. military five days after al-Jamadi’s death found that the cause: “blunt force injuries complicated by compromised respiration.”
“Reporting by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and NPR’s John McChesney revealed that al-Jamadi was strung up from handcuffs behind his back, a torture tactic sometimes called a ‘Palestinian hanging,’” he adds. “After an investigation, the CIA referred the case to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution of the CIA personnel involved, but no charges were ever brought. Prosecutors accused 10 Navy personnel of the crime; nine were given nonjudicial punishments, such as rank reductions and letters of reprimand, and a 10th was acquitted.”
Additionally, Sifton notes the CIA may have had some close calls with detainees nearly dying during interrogations: the May 10, 2005, Bush Administration torture memo by Stephen Bradbury notes that doctors were nearby to perform a tracheotomy if during waterboarding the suspect is approaching death.
“Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue of psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness,” Bradbury wrote. “An unresponsive subject should be righted immediately, and the integrator should deliver a sub-xyphoid thrust to expel the water. If this fails to restore normal breathing, aggressive medical intervention is required….’”
The memo says CIA doctors were on hand with necessary equipment to perform a tracheotomy if necessary during waterboarding sessions: “[W]e are informed that the necessary emergency medical equipment is always present—although not visible to the detainee—during any application of the waterboard.”