Indonesia: Faith leaders stress relief agencies must not try to convert

 At a joint press conference in Jakarta yesterday, Muslim and Christian leaders issued a statement following reports that some religious groups were using the tsunami relief efforts to attempt to convert survivors. The statement said that Christian communities in Indonesia "reject all efforts to wrongfully use humanitarian mission as a way of Christianising people. This is in direct opposition to the spirit! and teachings of true Christianity." The leaders appealed to international Christian communities wishing to help children affected by the tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra to work in collaboration with the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhannadiyah as well as other Islamic organisations as agreed by Christian Bishops and Muslim leaders with regard to the handling of the future of children who suffered from the tsunami. The leaders welcomed Indonesian government efforts to prevent affected children from being taking away from Aceh for treatment and asked people not to be caught up by rumours which have no basis. "We hope that all polemics that are unproductive to humanitarian work in Aceh and North Sumatra be swiftly ended. Now is the time for us to work together to overcome this national disaster. May God, Creator and Guardian of life bless our efforts." The statement was signed by seven religious representatives, Muslims and Christians including Fr Benny Susetyo, Secretary of the Interreligious Dialogue Commission of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops, Conference for the local Catholic Church. Source: Fides