Religion – Hardship the Followers of Local Beliefs Face

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In Indonesia there are six official religions which is Islam, Catholic, Christian, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, but do people know that there are other religions in Indonesia beside these six? In fact, according to the ministry of education and culture, there are 187 other religions that exist in Indonesia from Sabang to Merauke for example Kejawen from Java, Parmalim from Batak Tribe, Marapu from Sumba Island and many others which are not recognized by the government and rarely known by Indonesia citizens itself even though they exist even before the other six official religions came into and spread in Indonesia and without recognition from government or local society many of the local beliefs followers are being discriminated by people around them and even the government.

Baca juga: Belian – Ancient Tradition from Dayak Benuaq East Kalimantan.

Indonesia only Legalizes Religions with One God

Why are these religions not being recognized by the government even though some of them are Indonesia heritage? One of the reason that these local religions are not being recognized is that Indonesia follow Pancasila as national principle, which we know that in the first principle it said “Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa”

so basically people need to have religions but they only need to follow one God, like it is known that almost all of the official religions in Indonesia is monotheistic religions and this is not accordance with local beliefs in Indonesia where most of them still believe multiple Gods and even some of them are still being considered as animist as well because they still worships some spirit so the government think that local beliefs are not suitable to become Indonesia official religions and this situation sometimes force those local beliefs to adjust their religions according to the principle so that they can be accepted by the society.

Why do people who follow local beliefs are treated unequally or being discriminated by other citizens? No, since they are not officially recognized, people who follows local beliefs often meet discrimination in their daily life whether it is from the society or even worse the government in Indonesia itself, as I mentioned before in Indonesia we follow Pancasila as our principle and the first principle talk about “Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa”.

So that every Indonesia citizens are required to fill the religions column in their citizens card which in this case people who still follows local beliefs cannot write their religions on their citizens card and makes them often mistaken as atheist or the followers of communist party. While they can choose to just left the religion column in their citizens card blank, many of them just randomly choose one of the official religions as their religion to avoid any conflict or problems in their daily life.

Hardship the Followers of Local Beliefs Face

The condition of their religion not being recognized also becomes a problem for them because it is hard for them to look for a job since they are judged or misunderstood because of their religions and sometimes they also have the difficulty to get certain legal documents from the government because their religions are not recognized by the government.

Not only that, they even still face problem when they passed away since some public cemetery would not accept the dead bodies to be buried there since the local society reject their religions and there are even some even when their worship place was destroyed by local society or even being attacked by local organization. These are the example of the hardship that the followers of local beliefs face in their daily life. 

In conclusion there are so many hardship that the followers of local beliefs face, even though some of them already can write their religions in the citizens card because of the government trying to reduce the discrimination that happen in the society, they still have the obstacle to gain recognition and equal treatment in national level or even just local level since their religions are rarely known in public.

That is why people need to raise awareness about these local religions so that the society can easily accept them especially since most of them are Indonesia heritage and also give some event for them to have interaction with local society and give them the chance to be included in the social life.

Writer: Han Jocelyn
Student of Sampoerna University