Indonesia and Its Local Belief in Society

Local Beliefs


Indonesia is a very diverse country. Starting from ethnicity, language, race, even religion in society. Therefore, the government has designated 6 religions as 6 official religions in Indonesia, namely Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

This is because these 6 religions have long been embraced by Indonesians. In addition, the determination of these 6 religions is an effort so that there is no defamation of these religious teachings.

Even though these 6 religions are officially recognized by the state, there are still several communities in Indonesian society who embrace other religions. These are called local beliefs.

For example, Kejawen from Java, Sunda Wiwitan from Banten, Parmalim from Tanah Batak, and Marapu from Sumba Island. These religions still exist and have quite a large following in their place of Origin.

Their Situation in Society

Local beliefs that exist in Indonesian society are heritage religions, have been around for a long time, and have developed from generation to generation. These beliefs are customs that cannot be released by the adherents.

Another article about Local Belief, please kindly check Local Belief – All Religions Must Lead Their People to Goodness

Thus, the government should not limit the Indonesian people to only 6 religions and free local believers.

Since long time ago, followers of local religions have faced various discrimination and difficulties in the administrative process. For example, in making family cards, birth certificates and identity cards.

In fact, in some cases, their marriage is not recognized by the state because the way is considered different from other religions in Indonesia. In addition, they only carry out customary marriages that are not registered by the state.

Fortunately, after 41 years of hiding their identity, since 2017 the Indonesian government has allowed adherents of this local doctrine to include “followers” in their religious column.

However, in reality on the ground until now they are still given difficulties in handling this matter.

Recognition Must be Accompanied by Understanding in Society

It is undeniable that this is also influenced by a special stigma in the community. Changing the religion column seems bad so that there are officers on duty at Disdukcapil who seem reluctant in serving this matter.

Besides, the problems do not stop there. Although they have succeeded in changing the religion column on the KTP, the forms in public services mostly only provide 6 religions.

On several occasions, this has slowed down the administrative process because they were forced to fill in one of the 6 available religions.

Therefore, this recognition must be accompanied by understanding in society. Recognition by the state is not only done in the administrative process, but there must be special socialization and dialogue in the community regarding this matter. Moreover, in the place of origin of this local belief.

Local governments must be alert and coordinate their ranks in this regard. Thus, even in public facilities, adherents of local beliefs no longer experience prolonged discrimination.

Local Beliefs as a Part of Indonesia

Supposedly, this kind of discrimination need not be acquired by local beliefs. Since they have been around for a long time, and have always been part of Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesia is a diverse country.

Thus, the Indonesian people should not be “shocked” by certain differences and tolerate this completely.

As long as they do not do anything that threatens the unity of the country, they don’t deserve any discrimination. They are also Indonesian citizens; and have the right to Indonesia.

Moreover, if traced further, the local wisdom embraced by the believers has greatly helped preserve nature in Indonesia.

For example, local wisdom about forest protection by the adat community in West Java has proven to be more influential than written regulations.

It is in these circumstances that tolerance in Indonesian society should work. Tolerance is easy to say, but hard to do.

However, for a country like Indonesia which has a lot of diversity, tolerance is the only key to embracing all the people and creating justice for its citizens.

Penulis: Nurdianti Fatimah
(Student of Sampoerna University)