Three Indonesian women who ran a Christian Sunday school program were convicted and sentenced Sept. 1 to three years in prison for allowing Muslim children to attend their school.
The program was run out of the homes of the three women, Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti, and Ratna Bangun, to provide Christian education for Christian students. As it grew in popularity, the women admitted to their program some Muslim students who had verbal consent from their parents. According to media reports, none of the Muslim students converted to Christianity, and the teachers sent home any students who did not have parental permission to attend.
According to the human rights organization Jubilee Campaign USA, at least 60 churches have been shut down in the past year in Indonesia, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. “It’s especially troubling and worrisome since it occurred in Indonesia, a country long known for its relative religious freedom,” said Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom. “If it signifies the future direction of the country, the consequences will be terrible,” he said. (RNS)