It is no longer compulsory to indicate one’s religion on identity cards in Indonesia. Indonesians, under the heading “religion”, can leave a blank or indicate a faith outside of the six officially recognized by the state. This was announced by Interior Minister Tjahjo Kumolo. According to the Indonesian Constitution, only six religions are officially recognized by the government: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. So far, Indonesians had to indicate one of these six cults on their identity card, regardless of their actual beliefs (as for atheists, animists, etc).
Tjahjo, executive member of President Joko Widodo, said that one of the main reasons for the change of the rule is to have the exact information of the funeral rites to be observed in case of the death of a person.
“We should not force people, for example, to choose Islam if their faith resembles Islamic teachings but is not the same”, said Tjahjo, explaining that his ministry has considered recommendations and input from several leaders, forums and Religious bodies, such as Indonesian Ulema Council and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, before reaching this decision.
Although presented as an “administrative move”, this is a big step forward in the name of religious freedom for the Indonesians of all faiths. Standard bearer of this change was Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Christian politician, governor of the district of the capital Jakarta. Among other things noted by some scholars, the obligation to choose among the six recognized religions has led millions of Indonesian citizens to define themselves officially “Muslim”, when instead they practice traditional indigenous religions. This change could redefine the religious face of the Indonesian nation today.(Agenzia Fides 22/05/2015)
The Redemptorist presence in Indonesia is now for almost 58 years. The province is now expanded to five different islands: Sumba, Jawa, Flores, Lembata and Kalimantan. Indonesia has a predominantly Muslim population and Christians make up approximately 7% of the population. There are 33 dioceses in Indonesia and the Church is still growing.
CSsR The Province of Indonesia:
INDONESIA: A VIBRANT UNIT THAT GIVES HOPE TO THE CONGREGATION