Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big, bigger, biggest: Jakarta megachurches

When it comes to religion these days, it seems like it's go big or go home. Just ask Joel Osteen, the Houston pastor who holds services in a converted sports arena. Or Rick Warren, the California pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose-Driven Life whose congregation is so gigantic that Barack Obama and John McCain both came to genuflect at his feet.

Seems like Christians in Indonesia, now, are taking the "size matters" argument to heart. "Four multi-million-dollar churches that can seat thousands of people ... are nearing completion around Jakarta," writes Tom Wright in the Wall Street Journal. The subtext of the holy build-a-thon: After periods of persecution, like the Jakarta church bombings on Christmas Eve of 2000, Christians are confident enough to adopt a higher profile. Also, presumably, a faith demonstrating some money and muscle behind it won't be messed with quite as easily.

The rash of megachurches are also a testament that the Indonesian brand of Islam, for the most part, features a healthy strain of tolerance (perhaps inevitably so, in a nation where hundreds of distinct cultures coexist). Looks like they're secure enough to allow a minority of 8% to practice their faith more publicly, which is a model for moderates everywhere. Read more about the megachurch craze here.

Tomorrow: Exclusive interview with Indonesia expert and LibForAll founder C. Holland Taylor

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1 comment:

yaazal said...

You might want to see this too...