Indonesia Banget # 22: A Country With 4 Religions

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WARNING: DO NOT argue about which religion is better and DO NOT mock other religion. This post is merely talking about religions in Indonesia and the relationship amongst the believers. For me, all religions are good, the bad ones are the people who  misused their religion.

These sentences made me want to share about religion in my country.

” it’s (Indonesia) a Muslim majority country , so many people covers their face with clothes (he’s talking about women with hijab during the concert ) it was the sight I had never seen before . I’ve seen many kind of people but this is the first time I realize that our music has across religious boundaries”
~Hyde (Vocalist of L’Arc~en~Ciel)

Source: Noi-Himura. Translated from What’s In (a Japanese Magazine)

Hyde was surprised to see so many women in Hijab came to see the concert. It is true that Indonesian is a country which population is mostly consist of Muslim, however we are not Islamic Country. The government has acclaimed 4 major religions in Indonesia. They are Islam, Christian (both Catholic and Protestant), Buddha, and Hindu.

Muslim can be found mostly on the west and middle part of Indonesia (Indonesia is divided into 3 time zone which end up making us called it as West part of Indonesia, middle part of Indonesia, and east part of Indonesia). Christians are mostly on the east part of Indonesia. Hindu believers are mostly Balinese people and Buddha believers are mostly Chinese Indonesian. Here in Jakarta, you can find any religious people and agnostic and atheist 😉

Indonesian ID Card, required us to state our religion. Here is a scan of my ID Card, I have to block all the information to prevent misuse by others.

The mentioning of religion there is not to differentiate one person with another, it’s just the government needs to make sure that we have religion. Although this often led to a term called Islam-KTP (KTP is how we called our ID Card). Islam KTP meaning that the person is Islam only on ID Card but the behavior doesn’t represent his/her religion at all. It goes the same with other religions.

With these many religions in my country, how do people with different religion interact?

Fortunately, we are a peaceful country with so many different ethnics and religions. The only conflict related to religion only happen in Ambon, I have no idea why the Christian and The Muslim in that area are always fighting. It’s sad whenever I heard new news about them. You might also heard about the bombing of Churches in Indonesia few years back…trust me, that is an act done by terrorist!! The real Indonesians live in peace.

When the bombing happened, most Muslim condemned that act of terrorism. During the fasting month, The Christians, Buddhist and Hindus often shared food to Muslims who were still on the road when it was already time for them to break their fasting.

A friend of mine told me that she once met a westerner who was amazed with the fact that there are no boundaries between people of different religions in my country. When I was in college, I often talked about the difference between Islam and Christian with my Christian friend. It was a friendly discussion which never let to argument of which one is better. I miss talking to him.

I have friends from all religions, even the agnostic, and never once we mocked each other belief. Some of my closest friends are from different religions.

Our government made ALL religions’ HOLY-days as national holidays. I knew from a friend that other countries don’t even have holidays for Idhul Fitri. Here in Indonesia, it’s a national holiday when the Muslim are celebrating Idhul Fitri and Idhul Adha, when the Christian are celebrating Christmas and Easter, when the Buddhist are celebrating Waisak and when the Hindus are celebrating Nyepi, we even have national holiday for Chinese new year because the Chinese are using that day to pray in their temple.

And since we are not a Muslim country, we (Muslims) are not as strict as those in Far East. Can you see this image in a rock concert at those countries? 😉

Sorry, I forgot where I got this photo, if you know the owner, please let me know so I can credit him/her.

And here are two important Church and Mosque standing next to each other.

Copyright belongs to Embassy Of Indonesia.Eu

When it comes to tolerance or relationship between different religions, I am very happy I was born in Indonesia 🙂


  1. Fantastic and informative post, Novroz. The more I learn of Indonesia the more I wish to visit it. And you get a lot of the credit for that. Thanks for this.

    1. Thank you, Mike 🙂
      I sure hope you can come here one day, I can show Jakarta to you.

      I am glad I have given good impression about Indonesia…but no country is free of bad things, so I will share the not so positive side of Indonesia next month 😉

  2. I love how you wrote this post. ^^ plus I gain new knowledge that Indonesia have 3 time-zone. How stupid I am not knowing about it. ==”

    I agree with you. All religions are good because they taught us the same thing; ‘Live good, and do good deeds’, well this the way I see it. I’m sorry if I’m wrong. >. *don’t know what to call it XP* > are exactly opposite to each other. I rarely play to that area so I always forgets about it. It is such a beautiful view right?

    Wow, I think I’m like everywhere in your blog now. Sorry for being ‘cerewet’. ==”.

    1. What?? you forgot about WIB, WITA and WIT?

      hahaha it’s okay to be cerewet here 😉
      yes the image of itiqlal and the catedral is amazing. 2 religious center standing side by side.

      1. Yes..I only ever remember WIB..==”..There is just LOTS of things I don’t know about. And when I say lots, it means LOTS, like seriously. So I really learned many things from your blog. Heheheee, thanks for all the information. ^^

        Yup, btw, the Itiqlal Mosque, is it the one that Pres. Obama and wife went of when they’re here??? I remembered them going to a mosque, i think…?

        1. You are welcome 🙂
          You know, I myself learnt a lot about Indonesia from my monthly post because some posts required research before writing it down.

          Hehe I know nothing about that. When Obama came here I really didn’t pay attention to his agenda, I paid ore attention to Laruku’s agenda ;p

          1. The time Obama came, I didn’t know Laruku yet. hixxxxx…so sad..

            Woww, so even writing a blog needs research. I always thinks blog is used to shared our experienced and/or some random knowledge that doesn’t need research or maybe to express your thoughts and opinion..

          2. It depends on what kind of blog you are writing. But even after researching, some info often left behind, that’s why I always say thank you for everyone who kindly told me my mistakes.

            My latest post on Indonesia Banget is about Ki Hajar Dewantara, it was impossible to write about him without a bit of research. For movie review, I only search for confirmation of the film maker through wikipedia or IMDB.

  3. we also have a lot of religions in our country, from Orthodox to Catholics and Muslims…. but we do not have religion in our IDs since it is considered a violation of human freedom asking people to officially share their religion publicly.

    1. Wow…I have never heard that notion in my country before. Stating religion is not a violation of human freedom at all here. No one seems to mind sharing what religion they have. It’s just like filling up your name.

    2. I used to think that it’s not a big deal to have to fill out what religion you have Nov, but now that I’ve lived in the States for a while I do think it’s nice to have the freedom NOT to reveal about your faith. I think it’s a personal thing for most people and the government shouldn’t use it for their purpose and sometimes for a means to discriminate.

      As a minority in my country, I have actually experienced being discriminated against because I’m NOT a Muslim. My hubby can tell you a million stories about it also, but you’re right that in school generally we all get along and I do have Muslim as well as Christian friends I hung out with in school.

      1. Thank you for sharing that Ruth. When someone has lived outside Indonesia, one can finally feel the difference. Although in my case with or without the mentioning of religion on ID-Card has no effect at all as my faith can be clearly seen through my clothes.

        ah yes, discrimination still happens in some places…sad but true. I am glad I dont see much of it around my friend. However I wonder about your discrimination…were you being discriminate for your faith or your ethnic. I am sad to say that 16 years ago was the worst time to be a Chinese Indonesian. Things are getting better now.

        1. I do hope things are getting better now. The discrimination was DEFINITELY about my Christian faith, Nov. Ivan’s family used to live across a mosque and sometimes they’d host a prayer gathering w/ friends & family at their house once in a while, which involves singing worship songs. Their neighbors would literally come over to ask them to turn their music down even though it’s not even that loud [I mean compared to the LOUD SPEAKER they hear five times a day across the street] and that is just one occasion, there are plenty of others. In any case, I just want you to know what it’s like living as a minority in Indo, I do feel much more accepted here in the US.

          1. ah yes, I have heard that kind of story before from my friend and it happened in my neighbourhood too, no one come and tell them off but I did see some old people were looking to the house in some kind of a prejudice look.

            Sadly, in majority society things like that happen, but I am glad when it comes to personal friendship, it really doesnt matter what your friend’s religion is.

            Good to know you feel more accepted in US, Ruth 🙂 but it won’t be the same for me because I often heard about discrimination toward women wearing hijab there…and the fact there’s no holyday for Lebaran.

            I do hope one day the majority stop discriminating the minority…but I know that that is a vain wish that is difficult to come true 😦

  4. When I read your post i felt like it was about Ottomans 🙂 heh . Because we have other religions here too. Not Hindus but Jews for example. We are children of Ottoman Empire and there was lots of religious or ethnic groups lived peacefully hundreds of years in Ottoman management. I can say that ,they lived peacefully, because we can still find them. They weren’t erased like Maya’s or Inca’s they are still alive and their churches, monuments > cultures are still alive too. Ottomans peace politics came from Islamic ethics. In here, after Ottoman Empire, there were strict governments for every religion (a little stricter for Islam) for example girls can wear hijabs in colleges finally in last 3 years, before that it was banned. In these years trust and tolerance becomes like Ottoman times. Not exactly but still something.
    And about the bombing like terrorist attacks; we all know that it isn’t the real Islam. Islam didn’t give permission to people to make these acts. Actually Islam strictly forbids make bad deeds to another and it’s worse if you did it to another religions people. Because you must make them forgive you even after world ’at day of reckoning’ (I don’t know that if I could say what I meant). Unfortunately these terrorist make Muslims look bad, in reality Islam doesn’t approve them too. And unfortunately foreigners didn’t seek the truth and think that these terrorists are real Muslims. I proud my current government for just about these subject, they try to separate terrorism and Islam in terminology. They are against saying ‘Islamic terror’ etc.
    We have Islam-KTP term too 🙂 We call it “only Muslim in ID”
    You wrote such a good post and soo sorry 😦 for this looong comment but I can’t stop my fingers 🙂

    1. I have heard about the banning of hijab in your country…it’s a shame that people aren’t allowed to dress up freely. In Indonesia, if you want to wear Hijab then wear it at any age you like and any place you wanna be.
      Even in few Christian school, we can spot women wearing hijab work at that school.

      Don’t worry about the long comment 🙂 I like having long comment and it’s fun reading a bit about your country Do keep giving me information about your country when it’s related to the topic :).

  5. It is a shame that one has to add a warning
    but I understand why, unfortunately there is
    just too much discrimination in the world 😦

    I like how you have written
    this one Miss. Novia 🙂 🙂

    Have a lovely rest of weekend…

    Androgoth XXx

    1. I know, I wish I dont have to put the warning but when it comes to religion, some people just want to pick a fight by saying bad things…and I dont like seeing such useless debate here 😦

      Thank you for the compliment, Andro.
      Have a nice weekend to you and your family 🙂

    1. I don’t know why. I guess maybe because our country is not ready to have atheist yet due to the bad past we had with communism. At that time communism equals anti-God and they butchered so many religious people and attack religious places. But I am not 100persen sure it was the reason.
      It all come so naturally with stating religion in ID Card and not many people seem to care why we have to state our religion on our ID card. in fact, not only ID Card, school report also states someone’s religion.

        1. No, I don’t think so. ID-Card is only given to Indonesian citizen.
          As far as I know, visitors are never asked to fill their religion…but I will make it sure by asking my boss tomorrow. She is a Japanese with working permit here.

      1. Hi, Assalamualaikum. Numpang komen boleh nggak? 🙂

        I can’t believe you forgot about our PANCASILA. Our national ideology PANCASILA emphasize to believe in God. Remember the first principle : “Belief in the one and only God”. The five principles of PANCASILA are the very base of all law in Indonesia. In other word, in the eye of the state, you are not a WNI if you don’t believe in God. 🙂

        As long as they meet the condition (believe in God), all Indonesian regardless their ethnic and religion have equal status and have the same opportunity. “Strength in diversity” is our motto.

        And, it’s no longer 4, but 5 religions, as Confucianism is now recognized by the state.

        BTW I like your blog (I really do – especially this “Indonesia Banget”), simple and informative. Bookmarked. Keep it up. (^_^)V

        1. Hi Omzyr 🙂
          Tentu aja boleh banget komen…malah bakal sangat membantu kalo ada orang Indonesia lain yang bisa bantu jawab pertanyaan teman2 saya 🙂

          No…I didn’t forget about Pancasila…even if I told Audrey about Pancasila, it will not answer her question because her main question is more like why that first sila is ever created…or in other words why do we need to state our religion.
          My answer is fully my opinion…which is because of the bad past the communist had left us.

          I didn’t know Confucianism is already recognized by our country…thank you for telling me that 🙂

          Thank you. You know that sometimes our country is misunderstood by people from other country….I am hoping that this small tribute to our country can help people understand a bit.

  6. Another interesting post. I just saw the answer you gave Alice. I was wondering the same but your answer makes a lot of sense. Maybe that’s why we are free to state it or not to state it, we have never been under a communist regime.
    It would be wonderful ife we could all live together peacefully.
    I just see this on my movie blog, I have three posts which touch a religious tipic and I get the most comments on those and people are often aggressive and angry.
    Sad, as you say.

    1. Maybe one day Indonesia can be in the same situation as your country…but change will require time.

      I know! Your post is one of the reason I put down the warning. Some people can stay mature when discussing this sensitive issue but some are just easily pump up with anger and I don’t want to see such anger here. i wish all can share opinion of this subject cold headedly.

      thank you Caroline.

  7. Tolerance and understanding would solve many of the world’s problems. Most (if not all) of the time, the problem isn’t the religion, it’s the fanatics who misuse a religion to justify what they want to do. And it usually involves controlling others.

    1. So true Peter!! Will the world full of tolerance and understanding come true one day? I sure hope so.

      I know! Those fanatics often read their religion’s guideline as they pleased. Unfortunately not everyone sees things like you Peter…most people start blaming on the religion too.

      thank you for sharing your opinion Peter.

  8. #hugs#
    I love you 🙂
    hyde’s words just so ‘dalem’ and i love the way you wrote ‘ vocalist of L’Arc~en~Ciel’ it means a lot to me, the ownership feeling..gomen, i kinda bitter bout VAMPS#please ignore it#
    About Maluku conflict 😦 don’t you know, when Idul fitri comes, it was Christian students task to clean the mosque area? And when Christmast, it was Muslim’s students task to clean the Chrunch…sadly such relationship won’t happen anytime soon, it’s peacefull this time, but the scars still there, dark history that even ‘pela gandong’ won’t able to remove..but let’s pray for the best.
    And you’re right, when it comes to diffrences, tolerances,heterogenesis and all, i’m glad i was born in this equator emerald.
    Sorry for the long post, and my grammer and the spelling
    *i used phone*
    Again, thank you so much for this posting, and also for all the Laruku posts, i’m going to read them xDD feels like i just find sanctuary xp to know out there, there’s someone love L’Arc like you just makes me feel all warm*hugs*

    1. Hi Aozora 🙂
      We feel the same, for me Hyde belongs to Larc not Vamps.

      Oh…I didn’t know that. That was such an amazing activity…it really shows high tolerance. I hope no more useless fight will ever happen again in Maluku. I am with you 🙂 I love the tolerance in this country and the fact that we can have friends from different religions without feeling that the other religion is superior.

      hahaha don’t worry, I am happy to accept long comment and to meet another L’Arc-addict.

  9. Great post, Novroz. Couple of months ago I watched Mata Tertutup and about a week ago I watched Soegija (all related to religion). I must admit, I am reluctant to post the reviews because I think I should explain about the multiple religions in the country. Maybe I could link it to this post?

    1. Thank you Andina. Sure, you can link it here 🙂
      I love to read reviews of those movies. I saw Soegija poster when I saw Prometheus but I don’t know anything about the movie.

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