- Protestantism was brought to Indonesia by the Dutch, who in 1605 established their first outpost in the island country. The Dutch East India Company soon forced the 150,000 native Catholics in the Moluccas (converted by the Portuguese) to become Protestants, but they allowed new missions to develop only where they judged it in the company's interest. Among the pioneer missionaries was Justus Heurnius (1587-1652). He organized the Reformed Church at Batavia, translated the Heidelberg Catechism into Chinese, and later assisted in the translation of the Bible into Malay. His attempts to reach out to the Chinese in Batavia led to his banishment to Ambon for the last years of his missionary endeavors.In 1806, due to the Napoleonic influence over Holland, freedom of religion was proclaimed throughout Indonesia. Roman Catholics reen-tered, and the older Protestant churches and missions were reorganized as the Protestant Church of the Netherlands Indies. Beginning in 1797, a new wave of missionaries supported by the Ned-erlandsch Zendeling Genootschap moved into Java and some of the eastern islands.The 19th century saw significant expansion of the missionary effort. Back in Holland, several independent denominations split off from the Reformed, and some of them sponsored their own missionaries. British and American sending agencies began to open mission stations in the region as well. The result was a diversity of denominations, only a few of which reached beyond a single island or island group; many were confined to a single ethnic group.The Indies missionaries were among the last to ordain indigenous clergy. The first theological seminaries opened late in the 19th century. Hendrik Kramer (1888-1965), a Reformed Church missiologist who worked in Indonesia for 14 years, became a major voice calling for the native ministerial leadership, the maturing of the missions into autonomous churches, and the de-Westernization of the churches.There were about 1.7 million Protestants in the country when the Japanese occupation began. The churches and missions were totally reorganized, though the arrival of Christian leaders from Japan softened the blow. The internment of almost all foreign missionaries forced the churches to mature quickly. The end of the war brought Indonesia's independence. In spite of a Muslim majority, the country was organized on a multi-faith basis and a Protestant political party was created, but the churches faced periodic difficulties and national instability both under Sukarno (1901-70) and after.A particular challenge came in 1984, when the government imposed the principle of Pancasila on all organizations, including churches. Pancasila asserts that the republic is founded on five principles - belief in God, humanity, national unity, consultative democracy, and social justice. Pan-casila has allowed Christmas, Good Friday, and Ascension Thursday to be declared national holidays. It also dictates penalties against anyone who offends or insults, either verbally or in writing, any of the country's recognized religions.Prominent among the several hundred Christian groups are the Moluccan Protestant Church, the oldest Protestant church body in Asia; the 2.5-million-member Protestant Church in Indonesia, which continues the legacy of Dutch Protestant missionary activity; the Batak Christian Protestant Church (Lutheran), which dates back to the Rhenish Mission to Sumatra in the 1860s and also has more than 2 million members; and the Pentecostal Church of indonesia, dating back to the work of two ethnic Dutch families from Seattle, Washington, in the 1920s, with more than a million members. There are more than 20 additional denominations with over 100,000 members.More than 50 indonesian churches, 25 of them indonesian-based, belong to the Council of Churches of indonesia, which is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. A number of newer, more conservative churches have affiliated with the Persekutuan injili indonesia, which is associated with the World Evangelical Alliance. The total population of Protestant and Free Church Christians in indonesia is about 20.5 million, or 10 percent of the total population.As the new century began, indonesia and its Christian community were rent by the war over the separation of East Timor, a predominantly Catholic region, into a separate state.See also Asia.Further reading:■ F L. Cooley, The Growing See: The Christian Church in Indonesia (Jakarta: Christian Publishing House, 1981)■ G. P Harahap, Christianity in the Batak Culture: The Making of an Indigenous Church (Columbus, Ohio: Trinity Lutheran Seminary, M.S.Th. thesis, 1982)■ Douglas G. McKenzie with I. Wayna Mastra, The Mango Tree Church, The Story of the Protestant Christian Church in Bali (Boolarong Publications, 1988)■ Edward 0. V Nyhus, An Indonesian Church in the Midst of Social Change: The Batak Protestant Christian Church, 1942-1957 (Madison: University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. diss., 1987).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.