Indonesia is a country that is well known for the variety of religions in it. According to the law, there are 6 religions that are already recognized by the country. Those religions are Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. In Indonesia, those are the religions with a lot of followers or believers. Especially for Islam, it is predicted that there are more than 205 millions of Muslims in Indonesia. However, Other than the recognized religions, there are also various local religions or spiritual beliefs that are well known in Indonesia. Sunda Wiwitan and Kejawen are examples of those beliefs.
This country has five fundamental principles called Pancasila, and the first principle in the obligation to believe in a religion. With this principle, Indonesian citizens are free to choose a religion or belief for their own, whether it is a recognized religion or a local belief.
However, even with this freedom to choose, the believers of some local religions or beliefs in some areas in the country still face discrimination and unfair treatment both from the government and other citizens. Discrimination and unfair treatments happen in the terms of civil rights and the rights of worshipping. It is very unfortunate that the believers of local beliefs are still unfairly treated as tolerance and freedom to choose is something that Indonesian citizens uphold.
How It Started
The negative behaviour towards local religions and beliefs has actually started not long after the independence of Indonesia. In 1952, the existence of local beliefs was under strict supervision by a firm called Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan dan Aliran Keagamaan dalam Masyarakat (PAKEM). This firm was established by Kejaksaan RI in the same year. This supervision has actually been done since the colonial era to avoid rebellion towards the government that is done by the believers of the local beliefs.
Not long after, Kementrian Agama RI (Ministry of Religion) established that a religion can only be considered as a religion with the minimum requirements of a prophet, a holy book, and international recognition. This definition made it worse for the believers of local beliefs as most of them do not have a prophet or a credible holy book.
However, this definition ended up being taken down because of an objection from Hinduism worshippers in Bali. However, the negative behaviour against the local beliefs became worse in 1965 where there were laws established about the restrictions of local beliefs activities to protect the existence of big religions. After the G30S PKI tragedy in that year, the life of the believers of local beliefs has never been worse, even for a few decades after that.
Even in recent years, discriminations and unfair treatment towards the believers of local religions and beliefs still happen in some towns and villages in Indonesia. The people who worship local religions or beliefs usually have problems in terms of legal documents. They face some difficulties in making some legal documents like identity card, marriage certificate, and birth certificate because they do not have an “official” religion that is legally recognized by the country.
For example, this unfair treatment happens to the Baduy Tribe that lives in Kanekes Village in Lebak, Banten. Out of more than 11.000 villagers, only 4,347 people have identity cards or what Indonesian people call KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk). The Baduy Tribe claimed to worship the religion of Sunda Wiwitan. However, unlike the worshippers of big religions, they do not have their religion name written in their identity cards.
This happened because the Baduy People do not have an official organization and trustees that are registered in Kemendikbud (Ministry of Education and Culture). This may not look like a big deal. But, Indonesia is a country where the citizens are free to choose any religion they want and the people who worship local religions or beliefs do not get the same rights as the people who worship big religions.
Writer: Laurissa Nuria Adara
Student of Sampoerna University