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Indonesia’s Official Recognition Of Jesus

by | Sat, Feb 24 2024

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Indonesia has officially changed a decades-old state policy of referring to Christian holidays and Jesus by their Islamic names. President Joko Widodo signed the decree to accommodate the Christian minority in the world’s biggest Muslim country.

The names of four holidays on the national calendar will change because of the decree. They are Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Ascension Day. The new policy will take effect at Easter.

The Asia News Network reports that while Indonesian Christians had previously invoked the name Yesus Kristus in their prayers, the state had used the nomenclature Isa Al-Masih for at least Good Friday and Ascension Day. Now, it will officially use Yesus Kristus.

The news outlet sought the response of Indonesian Christians:

Wardhany Tsa Tsia, 29, applauded the government’s move to accommodate the interests of Christians, saying: “This is the right decision because, in Catholicism, it seems like we never use the word Isa Al-Masih, but we use Yesus Kristus, so the government has taken the right step.”

Anastasia Sidebang, a 31-year-old Catholic, also welcomed the government move, adding that she had no problem with the name Isa Al-Masih or Yesus Kristus in the holiday’s name as long as all people can worship safely.

Another Christian, Yogi Ernes, 28, said the government’s move to change the name of the holiday proves that the Religious Affairs Ministry is present for all people.

However, Christian Francisca Christy Rossana, 31, said the change was unnecessary as people already knew that Isa Al-Masih is Jesus Christ, adding that the name is interchangeable.

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Saiful Rahmat said that the policy change was not a state initiative, but was put forward by Indonesian Christians. “It was a proposal from the Protestant and Catholic communities that the nomenclature be changed into the one that they believe in,” he confirmed.

The Christian Post reports the majority of the people in Indonesia are seen as progressive and moderate. The constitution of Indonesia is based on the principle of Pancasila — five principles upholding the nation’s belief in the one and only God and social justice, humanity, unity and democracy for all.

The news outlet adds that churches often face opposition from groups that attempt to obstruct the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship. Human Rights Watch has previously said that more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago had been closed due to pressure from such groups.

Among Indonesia’s population, 236.53 million (86.88%) identify as Muslim, while 20.4 million are Protestants and 8.42 million are Catholics, according to 2021 data.