Several Christian churches in the Indonesian territory of Aceh have been demolished after local authorities claimed they didn’t have the right building permits. At least three have been burned to the ground, and at least one person was killed by an angry mob setting fire to a Christian church. Indonesia is home to the highest number of Muslims in the world, but as Reuters notes, much of the population is moderate, and religious diversity is not uncommon. But Aceh is different. There, separatists have implemented Islamic Sharia law, with groups like the “Islamic Defenders Front” demanding that many of the area’s Christian churches be torn down. The ruling authorities have already begun demolishing at least 10 local church buildings with sledge hammers this week.

From Reuters: “Police in Aceh Singkil district used sledgehammers and axes to tear down the churches—little more than small, wooden structures—as Christian members of the community looked on, many of them weeping.” Thousands of Christians in the area are believed to have left their homes to escape the violence. Religious tension in the country appears to be on the rise. According to the BBC, earlier this summer, “a mosque was destroyed in the Christian-majority province of Papua.”

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  1. “Under Sharia Law”

    No one likes to be publicly misrepresented. We hate to be broadly categorized as bigoted for our stances on issues like abortion same-sex marriage. We feel our positions are much more nuanced than others let on, and we want people to know that we care first.

    Let’s extend that understanding and grace to our Muslim neighbors.

    I would never downplay the wickedness of some Muslims who harass and terrorize minorities, including Christians, Jews, and even their fellow Muslims. I am not making any excuses for such people.

    However, intellectual integrity, evangelistic winsomeness, and the Golden Rule compel us to refrain from sweeping statements such as the one implied by this article: “Sharia Law = Razing Churches.”

    I’ve studied Islamic law more than the average bear and have lived in the Middle East for months. Sharia law generally advocates for the fair and equal treatment of Jews and Christians under Islamic governance. Sharia law condemns the alleged* behavior of these Indonesian Muslims (*alleged, please check out the factcheck comment by brother Proffit above).

    The headline of this article is inaccurate and inflammatory; it only serves to frighten us and create more misunderstanding. This the sort of ideological posture that leads Christians to burn down mosques. Let’s not go down that path.

    If we want to be understood and respected as Christians, if we want our Muslim neighbors to respect and admire Jesus, we must be prepared to understand and respect Muslims. Change the headline and make a commitment to engage our Muslim neighbors with intellectual integrity and respect.

    Your brother,

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