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    Christians in the province of West Sumatra in Indonesia are banned from holding Christmas services in private homes.

    According to International Christian Concern, the local government only allows worship services, and Christmas and New Year celebrations to be held in places of worship. Sudarto, director of PUSAKA (Center for Inter-Community Studies), said the ban has been implemented since 1985.

    …they have applied for permission several times. Yet the permit to celebrate Christmas was never granted. —Sudarto, director of PUSAKA (Center for Inter-Community Studies)

    “It has been going on for a long time, so far they have been quietly worshiping at the home of one of the worshipers, but they have applied for permission several times. Yet the permit to celebrate Christmas was never granted,” disclosed Sudarto.

    He explained that Christians have been requesting permission to worship in homes, but were always denied as the local government claimed “the situation was not conducive.”

    Sudarto said other religions are allowed to observe important holidays in their faith, except for Christians. Believers in rural areas have no choice but to hold private worship services.

    In Sungai Tambang, there are more than 200 Christian families and they have to go to a church in Sawahlunto about 75 miles away to celebrate Christmas. They asked the authorities to allow them to celebrate together in a house, but they were not permitted to do so. Sudarto said this clearly violates Indonesia’s law that protects religious freedom.

    Indonesia’s National Police denied that the local government has banned Christian communities from performing Christmas services, reports Antara News.

    Police authorities claimed that the information being spread via social media has no truth in it. “The district governments have confirmed there is no prohibition on those keen on performing Christmas services,” National Police spokesman Sen. Coms Asep Adi Saputra said.

    Saputra explained that the district governments and community members have already agreed that Christmas services should be conducted in an official house of worship. He pointed out that Christians are not banned from holding religious services for Christmas, as long as it is done in a church.