Proselytism Discouraged, Cooperation Promoted During Relief Efforts

Muslim and Christian leaders issued a joint statement to dispel fears that post-tsunami humanitarian aid being provided in the Indonesia’s tsunami-ravaged Aceh province is a means of proselytism, news agencies reported Saturday.

To date, a number of reports have made their way into the public media suggesting that evangelical Christian organizations that arrived in Indonesia to help in the wake of the tsunami had objectives that were more religious than humanitarian.

In response, Indonesia's Christian communities denounced all attempts to use the humanitarian mission to evangelize while leaders urged the international Christian communities who want to help children affected by the tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra to work in cooperation with the Muslim Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhannadiyah organizations—the latter represents 40 million Muslims in Indonesia—as agreed by the Christian and Muslim leaders.

"We hope that all polemics that are unproductive to humanitarian work in Aceh and North Sumatra be swiftly ended,” the leaders stated, as reported by the Zenit news agency. “Now is the time for us to work together to overcome this national disaster. May God, Creator and Guardian of life bless our efforts.”

According to Zenit News, seven Muslim and Christian religious representatives signed the joint statement, including Father Benny Susetyo, secretary of the Inter-religious Dialogue Commission of the Indonesian Episcopal conference.