2022 Report on International Religious Freedom: Indonesia

Executive Summary

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the right to worship according to one’s own beliefs. It also states that citizens must accept legal restrictions to protect the rights of others and to satisfy “just demands based upon considerations of morality, religious values, security, and public order in a democratic society.” Some local governments have imposed laws and regulations restricting religious observance, such as banning Shia or Ahmadi Islamic practice.

Authorities sentence individuals to prison for violations of blasphemy laws. A Christian YouTuber was sentenced to 10 years in prison for blasphemy and hate speech for posting insulting remarks about Islam. Parliament unanimously expanded the scope of blasphemy-related laws, effective in 2026.

East Java had the highest incidents of religious intolerance. Total incidents included 19 cases of blasphemy accusations, 13 cases of impeding the construction of a house of worship, 15 cases of forbidding worship, and seven cases of destruction of houses of worship. Nongovernmental organizations reported multiple assaults on Shia Muslims.

U.S. officials advocated for religious freedom, including at the highest levels of the Indonesian government. They raised issues such as actions against religious minorities, closures of places of worship, convictions for blasphemy and defamation of religion, the importance of tolerance and rule of law, and the application of sharia to non-Muslims.

Section I. Religious Demography

According to the 2010 census, 87.2 percent of the population is Muslim, 7 percent Protestant, 2.9 percent Roman Catholic, and 1.7 percent Hindu. A small minority identifies with other religious groups, including Buddhism (.07 percent), Confucianism (.05 percent), Gafatar, Judaism, traditional Indigenous religions, and other Christian denominations.

The Muslim population is overwhelmingly Sunni. Approximately one to five million Indonesians are Shia. There are many smaller Muslim groups, such as the Ahmadi.

An estimated 20 million persons practice one of the 400 various traditional belief systems, referred to as aliran kepercayaan.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

The Ministry of Religious Affairs’ Religious Harmony Index for 2022 found a steady increase in religious harmony from 2020 to 2022, but below the index score for 2019. The survey asks questions such as whether a respondent would support someone from a different faith becoming president, whether they would be concerned if a house of worship for a different faith was built near them, and if they supported other faiths hosting religious events or celebrations.

Some Shia and Ahmadi Muslims reported feeling marginalized and under threat. Anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi rhetoric was common in online and social media.

A Muslim presidential staff members sparked public controversy when she married her Catholic boyfriend,. The next day, the government stated that interreligious marriage was not allowed under the marriage law even though in 1986 the Supreme Court decided in favor of allowing interfaith marriage.

Source: 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom: Indonesia
Courtesy of U.S. State Department , Public domain

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