Muslim family disrupts Christian worship in Indonesia

By Morning Star News |
Disruption of house church service in Betiting village, East Java Province, Indonesia on May 8, 2024.
Disruption of house church service in Betiting village, East Java Province, Indonesia on May 8, 2024. | (Morning Star News screenshot of YouTube video)

A local official and his Muslim family last week disrupted house church worship in an area of Java island, Indonesia where it has never happened before.

In East Java Province’s Betiting village, in Cerme Sub-Regency of Gresik Regency, the head of the citizen association (Ketua Rukun Warga, or RW) in the Benowo area along with his wife and son on Wednesday (May 8) stood outside a house church at about 7 p.m. shouting for the 30 members to stop worshiping, according to video footage and news reports.

One of the worshippers, identified only as Gabriella, said the father, mother and their son came to the house screaming, yelling and calling them bad names as they demanded the worship stop, according to news outlet Infogresik in a story by The West Indonesia Protestant Church (Gereja Protestan di Indonesia Bagian Barat, or GPIB) congregation meeting at the house in Cerme Indah Real Estate, Block P/36 RT 11 RW 03, halted their service.

“They came shouting at us to stop worship,” Gabriella said. “The situation attracted residents to come, including the head of RT 11, who tried to calm the situation down.”

The worship was not loud and has been taking place regularly without incident for 10 years, she said.

In a video of the altercation posted on social media, the narrator identifies the citizen association head as Yayak Hari Subagio.

“In video footage, a family was seen immediately disturbing the activity of GPIB members in Benowo,” the narrator states. “A family, Yayak Hari Subagio and his wife Yayik Susilowati, a public servant at the Cerme 1 Public High School, with their son started yelling. The situation attracted the attention of the residents. They tried to calm the situation down.” 

The narrator states that 30 members of the house church were worshipping as the family outside yelled at them, demanding they to stop the service.

Cerme Police Chief Andik Asworo confirmed that the altercation took place on Wednesday evening (May 8), according to

“It was a dismissal, not a disbanding,” Andik said, adding that police are investigating and trying to mediate the conflict. “We are still waiting for confirmation from the local RT.”

Sirojul Munir, former chairman of the Lamongan Branch of the Association of Indonesia Islamic Students (Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam Indonesia, or PMII) and now heading an Ansor branch in Lamongan Regency, East Java, said it was unusual that the local official disrupting the service, though overseeing several neighborhoods in the area, was not from the immediate neighborhood.

“It is strange enough because the perpetrators are not the local community/RT membersand thus triggering a conflict that shocked residents,” Sirojul told Morning Star News. “It’s a shame that this happened, let alone such a thing never happened in the local community in the last 10 years.”

The altercation and other such incidents should be addressed, he said.

“Maybe this is a reminder that the Inter-Religious Harmony Forum (Forum Komunikasi Umat Beragama, or FKUB) needs to continue to socialize and promote the values of religious moderation that encourage harmony and tolerance between various elements of the society,” Sirojul said.

Indonesia, which has largest Muslim population in the world at 231 million people, has seen a stream of such disruptions of Christian worship in the past 25 years, including a knife attack on Java island on May 5.

Indonesia ranked 42nd on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.