Pastor in Indonesia Accused of Blasphemy

Muslims in two regions file complaints.

Pastor Gilbert Lumoindong of Indonesia Bethel Church in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Pastor Gilbert Lumoindong of Indonesia Bethel Church in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Screenshot from YouTube)

SURABAYA, Indonesia (Morning Star News) – Muslim leaders have filed complaints of blasphemy against a leading Christian pastor in Indonesia.

After Pastor Gilbert Lumoindong of the Indonesia Bethel Church (Gereja Bethel Indonesia, GBI) mentioned Islamic prayer and alms-giving in comparison with biblical tithing in a video of his comments from a Sunday sermon, attorney Farhat Abbas reportedly filed a complaint with Metro Jaya Police Headquarters in Jakarta on April 16 accusing him of disparaging Islam.

About 1,145 miles (1,842 kilometers) from Jakarta in eastern Indonesia, two attorneys under the leadership of South Sulawesi Arimathea Forum head Jumzar Rahman filed a complaint at South Celebes Regional Police Headquarters in Makasar, South Celebes, also claiming Pastor Gilbert blasphemed against Islam.

“The video hurts us – we Muslims feel offended,” Rahman said, flanked by the two Muslim attorneys, according to “How can he make comments on this matter that seem to make fun of Islamic shariah [Islamic law], something we believe?”

Another complaint against Pastor Gilbert was filed at Metro Jaya Police Headquarters on Friday (April 19) by Sapto Wibowo on behalf of the Jakarta Capital Special Region (Daerah Khusus Ibukota, DKI) Youth Committee organization, according to

Sapto termed Pastor Gilbert’s comments as “hate speech” under Article 28 of the Information Technology and Electronic Bill (Undang-undang Informasi Teknologi and Elektronik, UU ITE). Sapto said Pastor Gilbert’s apology was not enough, and that legal action was needed as a deterrent to future incidents.

“As a Muslim, I believe in forgiveness but also think that a deterrent effect on Gilbert Lumoindong could serve as a lesson for the public to be more careful when discussing religious matters,” he reportedly said.

Pastor Gilbert reportedly spoke in his sermon about the Islamic zakat, the 2.5 percent of income that Muslims who earn enough are required to contribute to charity. He has since apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting Muslims, and that Muslims edited the video in an irresponsible way to render his comments offensive.

Wira Satya Triputra of Metro Jaya Police Headquarters told media that following Abbas’s complaint, officers were questioning witnesses, according to Wira said police must examine evidence in the media and check places of worship.

Following the complaints, Pastor Gilbert visited with former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, head of the Indonesian Mosque Council (Dewan Masjid Indonesia, DMI), a nationwide organization of mosque leaders, and apologized, reported.

“I humbly apologize for the commotion that occurred,” Pastor Gilbert told the press at Jusuf’s residence in Jakarta, on April 16.

He also visited the office of the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI). Cholil Nafis of the MUI said his organization accepted his apology after hearing Pastor Gilbert’s explanation and heartfelt apology, according to the MUI official website,

“Gilbert Lumoindong said that he had no intention of insulting Islamic teachings, let alone creating divisions,” Cholil said after the meeting with the pastor on April 16. “We as religious people certainly accept his apology. We all forgive as we ask that this incident be a lesson for him and all of us.”

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

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