Positive step for religious freedom in Indonesia

Discriminatory law overturned

This month Indonesia’s Supreme Court declared that the law forcing adherents of indigenous religions to instead identify as one of the state-recognized religions on their national ID cards is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Indonesia only recognizes 6 religions- Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Confucianism. It is the most populous Muslim country in the world. All citizens of Indonesia must list their religion on their national IDs. For those who do not adhere to any of the 6 recognized religions, they are void of recognition, legal rights, and social support provided by the state. They also risk being accused of being an atheist and getting charged under the country’s blasphemy law.

The decision by the supreme court to overturn this law should allow those of minority religions to exercise fuller rights and face less state-led persecution.

Challenges Remain

For indigenous tribes who have been affected by religious discrimination, challenges persist. The Orang Rimba of the Sumatran rainforests have been targeted by a vigilante group called the Islamic Defenders Front. BBC reported that 58 families of the Orang Rimba were forced to convert to Islam 3 months ago in order to enroll their children in school.

Please pray that the change in law will make real positive impacts for people groups such as the Orang Rimba.