Indonesia – where “atheism is not an option”
Sholto Byrnes in the New Statesman recognises a degree of religious freedom in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim state, where even radical Islamic parties pay lip service to the rights of others. But the system is very far from inclusive.
However, this liberty has one major omission. You cannot officially be an atheist in Indonesia. For the constitution also says that “the state shall be based upon belief in the one, supreme God” – although it deliberately doesn’t specify which. This vagueness may sound like the kind of fudge we in Britain, with our traditions of gradualism and compromise, should recognise. But this, too, is limited. Only six religions are recognised – Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. (Judaism, it may be noted, is not listed; but then, according to the World Jewish Congress’s estimate, there are only 25 Jewish people in Indonesia[...])
All this has a consequence: you have to declare your religion on your ID card, and atheism is not an option. In practical terms, most people will choose to enter the religion their families follow, however loosely (it is often not appreciated that for many, especially in urban areas, religion is often much more a badge of cultural identity than a faith). It still means, however, that atheists are having to profess publicly to something they don’t believe in. Their own belief, or lack of belief, cannot be officially acknowledged.
Full article: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/12/religion-indonesia-belief
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Indonesia – where “atheism is not an option”,