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The Governments Responses in Facing the Disbandment of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship in Bandung as a Test of City Tolerance

Essay 2017 12 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Allgemeines und Theorien




Methods of Research


Conclusion and Recommendation



By Fanny S Alam

6 December 2016, public in Bandung were shocked with the issue of disbandment of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship at Sabuga ITB. The event was protested by PAS, Penegak Ahlul Sunnah, one of communities, when continued up to the evening regarding the worship for the adults group.

The community's objection to the event emerged in accordance with The Joint Ministerial Decree of Ministry of Religion Affairs and Ministry of Internal Affairs no 9/2006 and no 8/2006, underlining that such activities are supposed to be conducted in churches as well as pointed the incompletion of administration and legal permission. To respond such a situation, the committee responded through the release of police's recommendation no STTP/YANMIN/59/Xl/2016/DITINTELKAM .

Both the mayor and governor shared their different responses corresponding the worship disbandment. The mayor confirmed his objections to the community's action to disband the worship, meanwhile the governor mentioned it as a minor incident not to be exaggerated.

Through a direct observation of news in various media added with an exploration of significant regulations in diversity issues, the author underlines the significance of government's response to face the worship disbandment. It is important to view the responses since Bandung has been stated as a city of human rights. It brings some logical consequences to eliminate any practice of intolerance and discrimination to any minority group.

Keywords : government, tolerance, diversity


As a part of diverse nations, Indonesia becomes a house of different society with different backgrounds of ethnics, races, and beliefs. The state attempts maximally for accommodating any difference emerging in the perspective of democracy, yet some issues addressing diversity escalate in the period when most society in Indonesia are far better for their living. While gradually, issues of diversity escalate in major cities in where people never predict they will not occur there due to some factors, for example moderate and open minded leaders, better levels of education , and higher scales of economy. Some of cities in Indonesia which are considered plural and tolerant nowadays have altered to be intolerant due to some emerging distruptive cases addressing the issues of religion freedom. Bandung is one of the cities in where some of top universities are located and more diverse in accommodating different interests of ethnics, races, and beliefs. The city has been celebrating diversity and differences for quite a long time without any significant disturbances for most of society in different beliefs. On behalf of Bandung Messages, or Dasasila Bandung, declared in Non Allignment Movement Conference in 1955 in the same city, The city mayor, Ridwan Kamil declared Bandung as The Human Right City, pointing out that the declaration was addressing the respect for fundamental human rights and for purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations. The principle of Bandung as The Human Right City is elaborated in a charter, conscientiously arranged in conjunction with the centre of law and human rights advisory of Padjadjaran University and International Human Rights Reporting Standards. It is obvious that the charter is formulated on the basis of transparency, accountability, and participation of citizens.

A disconcertion develops when some cases of diversity issues in Bandung take place uncontrollably. A year passes by after the declaration of Bandung as the human right city and the society discover some human right violations in their city. The society seem to be sceptic , yet most of them understand the motives of the violation due to two factors as follows, the issue of religion principle misuses and allegations of administration process outlaws behind any religious festive or event.

The second factor is considered the principal source since it is complicated to prevent a religious event well guarded without any disproportionate interruption, which frequently comes from the party claiming as the side of majority religion. This occurrence dominantly arises ,particularly to minority religion groups. As occuring on last December 6, 2016 when Stephen Tong's Revival Worship conducted in Sabuga ITB Convention Hall was abruptly interrupted by one religious community, namely Penegak Ahlul Sunnah (PAS) and eventually adjourned for the evening's worship instead of being successful for conducting the afternoon's worship for children and youth. At the first the community was objected to the event in which they thought it was illegal to continue due to an incomplete administration procedure. They conducted a public oration in front of the convention hall and on the street while some of them were seen to sweep the activity inside the hall. The existing authority, representing police corps, did not manage to restrain the community to conduct further actions so as to adjourn the worship.

The situation called for an immediate attention from the local government, represented by the city and province government representatives. Both had a significant responsibility in addressing this occurrence. In contradict, both of them unfortunately showed different perspectives for overcoming it, viewed from their statements in regards to elaborating their positions to respond this without causing more tensions among the society who had already triggered emotionally due to this case. Through an intense overview of both of the government representatives' responses and literatures examination, this paper attempts to unveil the truth behind the disbandment of the revival worship and the goverment's responses impact for this occurrence. It reveals the significance of the government in terms of anticipating such a case while providing the security certainty for the society of different religions background for conducting their religious events without any interruptions of irresponsible parties who claim their actions on behalf of their beliefs. The situation eventually is another test of tolerance in Bandung as the city of human rights.

Methods of Research

The paper reveals the issues behind the governments’ responses towards the disbandment of Stephen Tong’s Revival Worship by applying descriptive method through the collection of actual information in terms of describing the existing phenomenon so as to identify the issues or to examine existing practices while to figure out the planning of solutions of this case. It is significant to discuss some of Indonesia’s Law in terms of bridging any case of diversity which currently has been escalating in worse stages. At the same time, the paper consists of some theoretical backgrounds addressing the issues of national and society diversity, while particularly for this case, it is drawing the background of human right perspectives of the city as the occurrence violates the principles of human rights and the country’s principal in general. Besides the descriptive method, theoretical backgrounds, and observation to some of the country’s law in terms of diversity issues, all the information about the governments’ responses toward the disbandment is supported through intense observation to various media publication in a regard of viewing the steps of the occurrence up to the solution of the case published in public.


Since its independence in 1945, Indonesia has been in a very diverse condition, particularly in races, ethnics, and beliefs. Diversity is an ordinary term in the country, historically proven at the early stage through The Pledge of Youth in 1928 when a group of youth from various ethnics declared the statement of unity. It raised more awareness of most educated people to figure out the future of the nation which was still under the Dutch settlement. The awareness invited people without seeing their ethnic and belief backgrounds as the purpose at that time was to set free from the colonization.

After the independence of Indonesia, the first President, Soekarno, envisaged the condition of the country with numerous significant aspects, particularly in multicultural dimensions due to his overview of the country's history. The dimension became the principal assets considering the cultural aspects to encourage developmental nationalism. During the early phase of indonesia' government under Soekarno's rule, the above-mentioned principle represented an attempt to accommodate various elements of Indonesia's elite's interest and to overcome the following differences among them. (Barker, Joshua, Beyond Bandung: Developmental Nationalism and (Multi) Cultural Nationalism in Indonesia, Third World Quarterly Vol. 29 no 3, 2008)

Pancasila, the state's principle, underlines that no single religion becomes the foundation for conducting the government and the state implementation. However, it states that Indonesia holds the principle of godly nationalism. It is an imagined community bound by a common orthodox theism and mobilized through the state corporation with religious organizations in society. (Menchic, Jeremy, Comparative Studies In Society and History 56.3, July 2014). All the abovementioned explicitly underlines that the government of Indonesia is running based on no religion principles despite the state's implementation through godly nationalism. It eventually encourages freedom of beliefs and expression for all Indonesians.

It is precise that the state's principal is translated to the state's constitution following its derivatives for lower level regions. In a correspondence with the freedom of beliefs and expression, the state released Regulation of Law no 12/2005. This regulation is a ratification of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR). Act 18 states that every person has their rights in exploring their thoughts and having their own beliefs, both personal and groups. This covers the right to interpret their beliefs in their rituals or other religious activities both in close and open spaces while nobody could be constrained to stop their activities, consequently, it might prevent an interruption of freedom to select and to conduct any belief according to their own personal options.

Act 27 comprehensibly underlines the undisputed rights of minority groups based on their origins, beliefs, or languages in terms of their freedom to undergo their cultural and religious practices, and communcative practices with their own languages.

The implementation of Regulation of Law no 12/2005 is in line with what Kymlica (2006) suggests that multicultural policies actually might encourage positive impacts on civil liberties, employment equality, and solidarity (Harell, Allison, and Stoile, Dietlind, Diversity and Democratic Politics : An Introduction, Canadian Journal of Political Science, June 2010). The law protects all Indonesians to conduct their religious and cultural activities without any pressures from those who claim as a part of majority. It shows for both majority and minority to be capable of conducting what they believe as long as they do not outlaw in general.

Case of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship disbandment drew public attention since it occured in Bandung, declared as the City of Human Right by the Mayor, Ridwan Kamil. It shows that a sharp controversy emerged. The incident shows that the representing aparat through police corps did not manage to dismiss the protesters, from Penegak Ahlul Sunnah. Having complained about the event's lack of administration procedure, Penegak Ahlul Sunnah swept and ordered the participants to leave the convention hall. Despite the protest, they let the children and youth participants conduct the worship up to the end in the afternoon. Becoming a major question is why the religious community on behalf of religion values tends to own a privillege to interrupt and to adjourn any other religious event, particularly from minority religion groups, in this case Christian.

The circumstance required an immediate response, principally from the government represented by the governor and city mayor. Not only in general does the cirumstance require the prompt anticipation of the government, but also requires the solid coordination of the government's apparatus when any incident in regards of intolerance practices take place. A statement of the City Mayor, Ridwan Kamil, underlined his profound conscience due to the worship disbandment. As well he stated that the disbandment was encouraged as a result of miscoordination between the event's committee and the apparatus in terms of securing the event. As a consequence of this, he disposed the coordination to the Agency of National Unity Politics and Public Protection to be their authority. Regardless of the coordination issue, he emphasized that the worship was the province-level event in accordance with recommendation memo released by the West Java's Ministry of Religion Affairs.


Contradiction arose when the West Java's governor, Ahmad Heryawan, mentioned different statement against Ridwan Kamil 's one. According to him, all details about the event were comprehensively acknowledged principally by the city municipality and the Agency of National Unity Politics and Public Protection as well as Bandung National Police Force and Bandung's Indonesia Ulema Council. More controversy appeared as he stated that the it was a minor incident , therefore it was not significant to be exaggerated because it would not distract anything.

Having viewed media with a lot of pro and contra due to the incident leading society to the making of public opinion which dominantly blamed the event committee for their lack of administrative procedure, the committee eventually clarified the controversy about the disbandment by sharing the release of police's recommendation no STTP/YANMIN/59/Xl/2016/DITINTELKAM. It was released so as to stop more controversy among public in Bandung. (Detiknews,07 December 2016, Begini Penjelasan Panitia Kebaktian Atas Insiden di Sabuga Bandung)

Furthermore, by the initiative of the City Mayor, the city municipality would facilitate the worship event in another time at the same location, estimated on the date of 20 December. He declared that every citizen had the same right for conducting prayers and any religious event inspite of some requirements to meet in terms of event implementation in public spaces. The requirement he emphasized was the committee's note of event implementation to be acknowledged by the police and other authorities, and it is purposed for any religion and belief.


Two different perspectives of the local government representatives in West Java and Bandung view not only miscoordination, but also define responses in anticipating such an incident. Despite the issue of righteous authority to handle this, both the city mayor and governor must be affirmative. In general, both of them do not show a sound affirmation to most of diversity issues in the city, consequently, it tends to unveil a lot of misleading for society and lead them to intensify public opinion, dominated by negative tendency about the issues, particularly the disbandment of worship. The negativity to the committee and the event kept arising with no acknowledgement from the public about the real occurrence, even after the city mayor released his objection to the disbandment and the provoking community publicly. In addition, both public's positive and negative reactions emerged more after the city mayor planned to conduct the same event on the same place for them, while no response from the governor appeared in terms of the surrogating event. Indisputably, the significance of both the city mayor and governor as the part of high-level authorities has a major role to anticipate the incident, while at the same time leading the public of the city to be more considerate in generating public's opinion. However, it is unexpected to elaborate the governor's response as if this incident of disbandment would not have brought significant effects in general as he had said previously when commenting about it. It is such a disappointment to see such a response, particularly from the governor as the highest level of government in the province. The governor is unquestionably supposed to be a representative of the society considered as an ideal role model, as a consequence it is significantly a major responsibility for him to behave and share his ideas addressing the rights and duties of the society without an explicit tendency of discrimination or undermining minority groups.

As the governor's skeptical reaction to the worship disbandment appeared, it shows the tendency that the provincial government did not act strictly to anticipate the outlaw issue in this case. Instead, he tended to overturn the issue to be a part of the city municipality's responsibility, in which actually this issue should be addressing both of the local government respresentatives' responsibility. Inevitably, the above-mentioned response is considered to draw negativity about the event predominantly and to generate the tension of the mayority and minority groups of religions, in this case particularly Moslems and Christians. The situation was intensified by interminable releases and opinions in media, specifically social media.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The disbandment of Stephen Tong’s Revival Worship by Penegak Ahlul Sunnah reveals that issues of diversity have not been anticipated with comprehensive awareness, particularly involving the society, apparatus, and government's representatives. The existence of Bandung as The Human Rights City is requestioned due to a some emerging cases of intolerance practices. In addition, it is significant to review the response of the West Java's governor which did not perform sensitivity to the incident. Despite the city mayor's responses which eventually led to some visible attempts so as to revive a conducive circumstance among all religious groups, the governor did not apparently attempt to show the response for reducing the tense of society who had been triggered emotionally due to interminable incoming news and information through various media.

The significance of both of the government's representatives’ responses is considered a principal matter recognizing that all parts of society in Bandung are looking forward to seeing the visible anticipation to overcome the incident, as a consequence the solution is expected to lead to the peace and conducive circumstances for all without considering different background of the society. As the city of human rights, it is such a major obstacle for Bandung , principally for its government, to promote the city which is supposed to maintain its inclusiveness for its society. The government's representatives and apparatus' perspective of human rights is in a considerable requirement so as to encourage the society's one as well in general. Having both same perspectives of human rights, the government's representatives and apparatus are expected to develop and to implement the regional law corresponding the society's human rights in the city according to the international human rights covenants which settle as the basic of the regional law composition.

The absence of human rights perspective comphrension leads the government's representatives and apparatus including the society to the inattentiveness for every issue of human rights, particularly in diversity, which eventually encourages more intolerant, yet discriminative practices. On the other hand, the attention of the city municipality about human rights perspectives development has elevated, as a consequence, the city mayor attempted to summarize those perspectives in Bandung's Charter of Human Rights. (

However, the socialization and implementation of the charter are still in a contradictory with the expectation. Confirmed with some emerging human rights violation cases, predominantly in issues of diversity, it provides a lot of disconcertions leading to a question if only the title human rights city for Bandung is merely a nonense. The last case of the revival worship disbandment is the exact failure of human rights perspectives implementation, which can be viewed from government's and society's responses.

The tension among different groups of religions heightens quite radically and the case of disbandment segregates majority and minority religion groups which have always been attempting to reach peace under various circumstances. Suspiciousness escalates and the attempt for peace is interrupted once again. To cease or at least to reduce the tension as well as the radicalism while to improve a betterment in diversity, it is confirmed to integrate inclusiveness principles to education system. The introduction of inclusiveness in education comes from principles of multicultural components in terms of corresponding issues of differences and diversity, particularly from the side of multicultural Islam components. It elaborates the principles of tolerance when viewing the diverse conditions in this country, consisting of multicultural society. It is moderately contradticting the principle of exclusiveness in religion education typically, when it introduces the system emphasizing the view of one religion to others and inferring the tendency of the belief through its exclusive point of view, as a consequence, it conveys the message of fanaticsm and radicalism among most of students in any level of education. (Baidhawy, Zakiyuddin, Building Harmony and Peace through Multiculturalist Theology -based Religious Education: An Alternative for Contemporary Indonesia, Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, Indonesia, British Journal Of Religious Education, Vol 29 no 1, January 2007, pp 15-30)

Besides improving the education system to be more accommodating for viewing more differences in multicultural society in Indonesia, the perspectives of human rights and anti discrimination as well as anti intolerance are in urgency to be developed. The human rights declaration of Bandung is supposed not only to be merely a jargon, but also to redefine as an exact implementation. The biggest question now lies on how comprehensive the government's representatives in West Java and Bandung understand the perspectives. This disconcertion might be visible when they attempt to handle cases regarding diversity issues. Their positions, their statements reflect their acknowledgement of human right perspectives as seen from, for example, the disbandment of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship in Sabuga, Bandung last December 2016. It is unfortunate to read the statement of the West Java's governor which has a tendency to underestimate the above-mentioned issue, on the contrary, the city Mayor attempted to accommodate this more attentively. It could be observed through his statement and his following action in post-period of the disbandment. The difference of both of the representatives' in conveying their statements might lead the society of Bandung to determine their minds and actions in terms of this issue and other relevant ones in the future. Government of any state and province are the milestone for their society due to their regulation establishment in a purpose to accommodate all's rights and duty, while they are supposed to represent the position of society. As the result, it is imperative that any representative of government apply their power to provide protection and accommodation to the society without viewing their backgrounds of social strata and religions. The case of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship disbandment becomes a particular note in which it escalates the tension among the society, mostly for Moslems and Christians in Bandung, furthermore it challenges the government's representatives to release supporting statement and to establish accommodating regulations which protect the freedom of society's religions activities without seeing majority or minority congregations in the city, obviously through the enactment of regulations in accordance with human rights peperspectives as a profound reminder of Bandung as The city of human rights.


Barker, Joshua (2008). Beyond Bandung : Developmental Nationalism and (Multi) Cultural Nationalism in Indonesia, Third World Quarterly Vol. 29 no 3

Menchic, Jeremy (2014). Comparative Studies In Society and History 56.3, July 2014

Harell, Allison, and Stoile, Dietlind (2010). Diversity and Democratic Politics: An Introduction, Canadian Journal of Political Science, June 2010

Detiknews, 07 December 2016, Begini Penjelasan Panitia Kebaktian Atas Insiden di Sabuga Bandung


Baidhawy, Zakiyuddin (2007). Building Harmony and Peace through Multiculturalist Theology -based Religious Education: An Alternative for Contemporary Indonesia, Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, Indonesia, British Journal Of Religious Education, Vol 29 no 1, January 2007 (pp 15-30)



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Titel: The Governments Responses in Facing the Disbandment of Stephen Tong's Revival Worship in Bandung as a Test of City Tolerance