The Violence and The Church

ON NEXT October the communion churches in three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) under The United Evangelical Mission (UEM) will convene in Dar Er Salam, Tanzania. Theme of this assembly is Culture, Violence and the Churches.

Violence is often attacking the church especially in Indonesia. On Sunday (8/8), for example, the Indonesian’s Christian communities were shocked by unexpected attack. The Sunday prayer that organized by congregation of Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HBKP) in Pondok Indah Timur, Bekasi, was forcibly dissolved by people who claim themselves as Moslem movement. Police failed to protect. The congregation was evacuated even though they have been 20 years prayer at that land.

Such action always increases the degree of hostility and break Indonesian’s hospitality. But, thanks to HKBP leadership, Christian’s communities and other religion’s communities that can be able to be wise and mature. Besides criticizing the violence, the leaders also urged the congregation not to revenge. Violence is prohibited.

Violence has challenged the church. The previous patterns of violence used abstract actions such as words, slogans or hidden campaign. However, Bekasi’s accident has opened our eyes that the violence had taken the physical form and involves many people. It is possible that a bloody clash might be happening in the future. The Church must do the act.

The church must respond to these challenges wisely. We are aware that the state had failed taking legal action in order to protect people’s freedom to have certain religion. However, we can not focus only for this issue: law determination. Law determination is not a single way to overcome the violence. The church should have a large overview and multidimensional perspective for dealing with this matter.

In my opinion the accident which took place in Bekasi was not a natural action based on religion motives. The actors who took part also, should not be placed in position of black and white; wrong or right. We must break the roots of violence itself, and answer the question: why do people want to engage in massive violence?

I believe that those involved on Sunday’s attack are also the victim. Their involvement didn’t occur naturally. Poverty, lack of access to personal development, social inequality and alienation has greatly contributed to draw them into the realm of violence. The violence here born systemically by the system that I call as the anomaly.


We know that Indonesia is a country that has bright economic growth. Indonesia has been honored as a member of the G-20. When Europe and America failed growing, Indonesia has been growing at over five percent. Even in the economic report of second quarter on 2010, Indonesia has grown by 6.2 percent.

But we also know that until the year 2010, more than 31 million Indonesian populations live below the poverty line. Approximately 1.7 million children under the age of being are forced to work for reasons of survival. 51.5 percent of the total 166 million workers in Indonesia only have primary school education. From 166 million, more than 12 million people unemployed.

Human Development Index (HDI) of Indonesia is the worst. In 2006, Indonesia was ranked 107th. In the year 2008, that position had fallen slightly, to 109. But in the year 2009, Indonesia’s ranking freely felt to a position 111.

Here the anomaly is: a brilliant economic growth could not overcome the poverty. The gap between rich and poor is even wider. Social relationships between people increasingly blurred.

The anomaly appears because the logic of the state only focuses on economic growth.  Resources and effort are directed for growth even it must pay dearly; including ignoring the natural destruction and damage to social life. This logic is called by Ignas Kleden on Epistomologi Kekerasan Indonesia (2001) as the logic which only relies on the results (final logic).

We know that the economic growth needs the investment. In order to attract investors, labor market has been made cheaper. The value of salary is low. People are forced to work in out-sourcing system. Workers’ rights are limited and truncated. Workers could be fired at any time even without being able to claim his rights.

Cities are crowded and stuffy. The villager floods the city to earn a living. The number of traditional rice fields and farmland decreased due to be taken over by large-scale plantations. Farmers no longer have the land. They were forced to be a labor.

Those who lost the competition in the city are forced to become homeless and criminals. They live in the worst areas: unhealthy, intimidated and frustrated. On behalf of life, they have committed an offense. City faces losing its humanist identity and turned into a land of crime and violence.

Cities are factory of perpetrators of violence. People can be easily recruited to become brutal. Law fails stopping the violence. Prison doesn’t actually make people deterrent automatically. On the contrary, the perpetrators of violence increase with the rising of the poor.


Violence as a child of the anomaly is not produced by Indonesia itself. Global economic system governed by market mechanisms must be responsible. The bright of economic growth have created the glories of poverty. The Indonesian domestic income has transported back to the investing country through repatriation of capital. Indonesia only has crumbs through the various tax levies, rental, royalty and other tariffs.

This phenomenon has not belonged to Indonesia itself. The third world countries in Asia and Africa also experienced on it. This phenomenon is known as a gap between north and south.

Studies by Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson (2001) found the facts that: two thirds of world population does not feel the benefits of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). Total 75 percent and 60 percent of the accumulated stock of FDI is only felt by the three regions at the beginning of the 1990s: North America, Europe and Japan. Even though the populations those regions is only 14 percent of the total world population.

UNDP confirmed Hirst and Thomson’s. Through the Human Development Report (HDR) in 2002 had reported that income of the richest man in the world equal to 57 percent income of world’s population. Ten percent of the richest people in the United States have an income of as much as 43 percent of the world’s poorest inhabitants. Or in other words can be told that: 25 million richest people in the U.S. are equal with the revenues of two billion inhabitants of the earth. Revenues of the world’s richest five percent of people amounted to 114 times the income of five percent of their income by the poorest in the world.

The fact above still exists nowadays. The facts convince us that domestic violence is closely linked to poverty which is created by global economy. To end this violence requires international cooperation. Church in Asia and Africa can not work alone. The Church in Europe also has responsibility. Violence is a common problem.

Facing this challenge, there are three things that I have recommended as global respond:

First, use international influence and effort to force state like Indonesian to take primary responsibility. The state will be the front actors that obliged to reduce violence. For that mission, state must fulfill the dual responsibility: 1) enforce the laws that are not discriminatory; 2) Reduce poverty rapidly and widely.

Second, implement contextual interfaith dialogue until to the grass root level. The dialogue must put poverty and injustice as main mission. We are not enough relying on traditional dialogue to cut the roots of violence. The traditional models are able to postpone the violence but can not eliminate it. As long as poverty taken place, as long as it also the violence be a real threath for the church.

Third, Church should be stronger in order to force countries in the world to do total correction on economic global system. The economy which drives  market economic made the world become unstabil. The litte crash has a significant contribution to add the numbers of poverty. Poverty absolutely triggers by the domestic violence.


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