Indonesia & India: Critical Elections Need Prayer

General April 1, 2009

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 523 | Wed 01 Apr 2009 

Indonesia and India -- two states with growing churches -- have elections in April that could be pivotal for these churches' religious liberty. In Indonesia the issue arises because fundamentalist Islamic parties, whilst too small and unpopular to win power in their own right, could secure the balance of power giving them an influence far beyond any mandate. In India the past four years of aggressive Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) campaigning has been aimed at converting the traditionally animist tribal Indians to Hindutva to outstrip Indian Christianity. This has been very effective in securing religious-political conversions and in generating explosive sectarian tensions. 

* INDONESIA: LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY POLLS ON 9 APRIL 

Indonesians will go to the polls to elect a new parliament on 9 April. Indonesia has a multi-party democracy and coalitions are normally needed to have legislation passed. To get their legislation through the assembly, the large parties will pursue quid pro quo deals with the small parties, a situation the small parties can exploit as they 'auction' their votes to the highest bidder. Whilst this can be beneficial and have a broadening or moderating effect on legislation, it can also provide an opportunity for the small and unpopular pro-Sharia Islamic parties to advance their Islamic agenda. During 2008 the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) passed a number of controversial laws sponsored by Islamic parties whose support he will need if he is to be re-elected as president in July. Islamisation freely advancing by such political means would be a serious threat to religious liberty in Indonesia. There is also concern that Indonesia could be shaken by post-election violence. 

* INDIA: GENERAL ELECTIONS START 16 APRIL 

India has a long election season as more than 700 million votes need to be collected. Voting starts on 16 April and goes through until 13 May, with the results due to be announced on 16 May. Displaced Christians in Orissa living under constant threat of Hindutva violence wonder if they will even get to vote, let alone be able to vote freely. Hindutva-advocate Manoj Pradhan has been nominated by the Hindu nationalist BJP as their candidate from the communally-split G Udayagiri assembly constituency. Pradhan is currently in prison on multiple charges including incitement, murder and arson, arising from the anti-Christian pogrom in Kandhamal in August-September 2008. As noted in last week's RLP, the BJP has nominated Ashok Sahu as its candidate from the Kandhamal Lok Sabha (Federal parliament) constituency. According to Sahu, Hindutva as it's imposed in Kandhamal is the model for the whole country. These nominations clearly expose the fascist ideology and violent agenda of the BJP. The security situation for Indian Christians is most serious, particularly those in remote Hindutva strongholds like Kandhamal. It is just tragic that five years of Congress-led UPA Federal rule has permitted Hindutva to advance unchallenged. Across India, religious liberty and security hang in the balance.   

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LORD GOD, We lament and grieve that secular governments around the world are failing to tackle the difficult issues of religious totalitarianism and religious nationalism -- a failure that enables these dangerous ideologies to advance unchallenged. 

We also acknowledge that worldwide the Church generally is failing to speak up for religious liberty and for the victims of religious persecution -- primarily for lack of courage and understanding; and failing to pray -- primarily for lack of faith and brotherly love. 

Regarding Indonesia and India, please pray that God: 

* in his mercy will provide moderating forces to hold the balance  of power in these democracies, so that Islamisation cannot  freely advance in Indonesia and Hindutva cannot freely advance  in India.  

* will raise up voices in society, government, media and the  Church to challenge religious totalitarianism, intolerance and  hatred, and to support religious liberty, for the sake of the  Church he loves and the nations he created.  

'O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.' (Isaiah 33:2 ESV) 

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE       

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PRAY FOR CRITICAL ELECTIONS IN INDONESIA & INDIA 

Indonesia and India are due to hold elections that could prove pivotal for religious liberty. In Indonesia the issue arises because fundamentalist Islamic parties, whilst too small and unpopular to win power in their own right, could secure the balance of power. In India the threat arises amidst heightening sectarian tensions because the past four years of aggressive Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) campaigning has been very effective in securing religious-political conversions to boost the Hindutva vote. The Indonesian elections are on 9 April, whilst the Indian election season runs from 16 April through to 13 May, with the results out on 16 May. Religious liberty hangs in the balance. Post election violence is also possible. Please pray. 

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.  

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.