When the Enemy Lives Next Door

Image via 'The Look of Silence' trailer/YouTube

On a macro level, however, The Look of Silence is equally important in its examinations of evil, guilt, consequence, and forgiveness. It’s a horrifying document of the cruelty humans are capable of, and the ways we try to justify our sins, especially those that are very clearly unjustified. It’s also an incredible example of the courage and grace to seek reconciliation — which, through Adi’s example, Oppenheimer shows we’re equally capable of. The Look of Silence is required viewing, equal parts frightening and beautiful, much like the landscape it portrays.

Indonesian Woman Gang-raped, Faces Caning for Adultery

Islamic religious police in Indonesia plan to publicly flog a 25-year-old widow and a married man for adultery after vigilantes gang-raped her as punishment for having extramarital sex, according to media reports.

The woman and her paramour, a 40-year-old father of five, were surprised late Wednesday by seven men and a 13-year-old boy who barged into her home in Aceh, which is the only province to enforce the system of Islamic law known as Shariah, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday, citing The Jakarta Globe.

The group tied up and beat the man, repeatedly raped the woman and poured raw sewage over them before taking the couple to the local Shariah police.

Dear Sen. McCain, We Live on Earth, and Climate Change is Real

s_bukley, solarseven, and Frontpage/Shutterstock

John Kerry and John McCain both spoke out on climate change this week. s_bukley, solarseven, and Frontpage/Shutterstock

This week, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke more forcefully about the urgency of climate change than he has before publically, likening it to a weapon of mass destruction. Apparently, such words did not sit well with Sen. John McCain, a politician who was once a pioneer in the political fight against climate change. In response to Kerry, McCain asked, “On what planet does he reside?”

For some context: Kerry has been traveling worldwide. He made his climate change speech in Indonesia, a nation made up of islands that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Climate change isalready contributing to changes in rainfall in the country, with serious droughts and flooding, and the threat of significant sea level rise. Furthermore, Indonesians seem more aware of climate change than we are — no surprise given its impact on their entire country. In its Climate Asia project, the BBC found that 63% of Indonesians said the number of trees had decreased and 74% believe that climate change is happening (compared with 68% of Americans). Kerry was speaking about an imminent problem to a nation where most people are aware of that problem.

8 Countries on UN Human Rights Council Restrict Religious Freedom

Photo by Tom Page via Flickr

The United Nations Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Tom Page via Flickr

LONDON — Eight of the 47 countries that hold seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council imprisoned people in 2013 under laws that restrict religious freedom, according to a new report from Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Belgium.

The eight UNHRC member states on the group’s second annual World Freedom of Religion or Belief Prisoners List, released Monday, are Morocco, China, and Saudi Arabia (whose new three-year terms begin Wednesday), and current members India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, and South Korea.

Hundreds of believers and atheists were imprisoned in these and 16 other countries for exercising religious freedom or freedom of expression rights related to religious issues, according to the report. These rights include the freedom to change religions, share beliefs, object to military service on conscientious grounds, worship, assemble, and associate freely. Violations related to religious defamation and blasphemy are also included in the report.

Rival to Miss World Will Crown a Pious Muslim Woman

Nina Septiani of Indonesia was crowned Miss World Muslimah 2012. Via RNS/The World Muslimah Beauty/Facebook

After hardline Islamists voiced opposition to the Miss World contest now being staged in Muslim-majority Indonesia, a rival World Muslimah beauty contest exclusively for Muslim women will announce its winner on Wednesday in the capital of Jakarta, though the U.S. candidate suddenly dropped out.

“Muslimah World is a beauty pageant, but the requirements are very different from Miss World,” the pageant’s founder Eka Shanti told Agence France-Presse.

“You have to be pious, be a positive role model and show how you balance a life of spirituality in today’s modernized world,” she said.

Atheists Rally for Persecuted Unbeliever in Indonesia

The atheist community has embraced the cause of an Indonesian man, Alexander Aan, who was beaten and jailed after denying God’s existence on Facebook and posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Center for Inquiry, a Washington-based humanist organization, launched a petition Tuesday (July 17) on behalf of Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old Indonesian civil servant currently serving a 30-month jail sentence for “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity,” according to the judge who sentenced him.

The petition asks the Obama administration to pressure the Indonesian government for Aan’s release and for better protection of religious freedom in that country, the most populous Muslim nation in the world.

Pastor Who Granted Sanctuary to Meet with ICE Officials

Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

Keep Indonesian Families Together, photo via Reformed Church of Highland Park

The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, a New Jersey pastor who granted sanctuary to an Indonesian immigrant, is scheduled to meet with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement public advocate on March 20.

But Kaper-Dale said he remains skeptical given the wording in the invitation.

“It’s an invitation to talk, but [says] ‘you’re breaking the law,’” he said.

Saul Timisela—who fled to the U.S. to escape religious persecution 14 years ago—has now lived in the Reformed Church of Highland Park in Newark, NJ for two weeks, avoiding deportation.

Refugee Defies Deportation, Seeks Sanctuary at Church

American flag photo by Christopher Penler,

HIGHLAND PARK, N.J. — Saul Timisela was ordered to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Newark early on the morning of March 1 to be deported.

Instead, the Indonesian Christian took sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale is trying to save a group of Indonesian refugees who fled their country to escape religious persecution more than a decade ago.

Timisela may have felt safe given ICE's historical reticence to raid churches where illegal immigrants are being harbored. But at the same time, he was sorry to say goodbye to his wife of 10 years — another Indonesian Christian who's also in hiding because she has overstayed her visa and does not have an open case with the immigration agency.

Report from the Global Christian Forum in Indonesia: Day Five, Heading Home

The "sermon" consisted of reflections by five participants from different regions and traditions who were attending the Global Christian Forum for the first time. They each spoke of the joy, and often the surprise, in what they discovered here -- some of them interacting with delegates from Christian traditions they barely knew even existed.

The unity of heart and Spirit they experienced at the forum had a profound effect, they said. Emily Obwaka of Kenya, a staff member from the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, whom I met on the bus the first day of the forum, was one of those who shared. She said the forum felt like "a preamble to heaven." Such sentiments might seem excessive but they were not uncommon among the 287 forum participants from 65 countries. Joy and affirmation were among the greatest takeaways from the five-day gathering.