Sect leader jailed for besmirching Christianity

The Jakarta Post/April 7, 2004
By Yuli Tri Suwarni

Bandung -- A panel of judges of the Bandung District Court sentenced on Tuesday the Rev. Mangapin Sibuea, the leader of the "Prophet Hut" Christian sect, to two years in jail for misusing and besmirching of Christianity.

Presiding Judge Sir Johan said that the 59-year-old defendant had been found guilty of convincing hundreds of his followers that the end of the world would occur on Nov. 10 last year.

Sir Johan also said that Sibuea had also been found guilty of spreading hatred, as he had preached to his followers that other minister of religion were false prophets who would be consigned by God to hell.

His followers believed his prophesy that doomsday would occur on Nov. 10 last year, and they gathered on that day in a Pentecostal church in Baleendah, some 30 kilometers east of Bandung.

But, police personnel dispersed the crowd and arrested the leaders of the sect, including the Rev. Sibuea.

Another 12 leaders have been standing trial in the same court, including two sons of Sibuea, with the verdicts on them expected to be handed down in the near future.

Upon hearing his sentence, Sibuea stood up and vowed to appeal.

The sentence was lighter than the three-year jail term that had been sought by prosecutor M. Hutagaol.

In a previous session, Sibuea denied all the prosecution charges. He argued that he had not spread hatred as he had only preached to the members of his congregation, and had never talked ill of other religions.

Sibuea said he had attracted many followers, including people from Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara.

The incident was actually not the first of its kind in Indonesia.

In 2000, a similar doomsday sect emerged in the Central Java regency of Rembang, where a group encouraged sex among its followers, and obliged female members to engage in sexual relations with the group's leaders.

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