A Never-Ending Talk about Religion


It is a never-ending talk when the conversation is about religion. Some people might talk about Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism, however, they rarely talk about our local beliefs. Yes, this is because the Indonesian government only recognizing 6 official religion and no others. Indeed, it is really interesting to talk about our local beliefs.

Baca juga: Local Beliefs in Indonesia.

Local beliefs & “Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa”

             Indonesia have so many indigenous beliefs, data from the ministry of education and culture even mentioned that there are 187 different penghayat kepercayaan or traditional beliefs in Indonesia.

These traditional beliefs have their own organizations that represent them at the national level, however, this does not mean they are an official religion.

Around 20 million Indonesian are estimated to become the adherent of these beliefs. Have you ever think why they are not considered as a religion although Indonesia has Pancasila that says “Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa”? This first principle of Pancasila does grant the freedom to choose our own religions, however, it does not work for some indigenous and local beliefs.

Why? Basically, “Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa” grant to those who believe in one God, the problem is that not all local beliefs are having one God. Beliefs that are having more than one God should adjust themselves to meet the demand of believing in one God or “Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa”. This is why not all local beliefs can be considered as a religion.

 Religion and History

The issue of communism is a sensitive deal in Indonesia. We have ever experienced a very terrible event in history about that. Who’s in here does not know about PKI? Yes, the event that occurs on PKI is one of the pieces of evidence.

PKI who are branded as atheists receives so much discrimination, destruction, and they face many horrible killings. PKI people were killed and fully eliminated in 1965. Of course, this is not a thing that we all want to happen again in the future.

People do not want to get in trouble for this issue again. Therefore, people who believe in indigenous religion usually declare their religion with one official religion that is being recognized in Indonesia as a formality.

PKI event gives a big impact on Indonesia, especially for the adherent of the local beliefs. Since then, the second president of the republic Indonesia, Suharto, make a policy that applied to all Indonesians to register their religion in KTP or Kartu Tanda Penduduk (Indonesian identity card).

This is a worrying thing for the adherent of local beliefs because their belief might not be recognized. In real life, they even face so many challenges. Start from discrimination and less access to public services.

Their luck in their daily activities is in the hand of their district leader. If the district leader allows them to freely practice their faith, it is good news. However, if in some years the newly elected leader has a different perspective and he or she does not allow them to freely practice their faith, then it is bad luck.

Local Beliefs Now

In Indonesia, the traditional beliefs are recognized by the government as a part of Indonesian culture, they are not being considered as religions. That is why we come to the fact that traditional beliefs are falling under the authority of the Ministry of Culture & Education.

This is a really interesting part of local beliefs. They are culture, not a religion. Again, it is a never-ending talk when the topic is religion and faith. So, you have come this far. Did you find a new thing by reading this? What’s your opinion? Want to talk more in the next chance?

Penulis: Dara Ginanti
Student Of Sampoerna University