Tolerance in Theory, but Not in Action
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
While the majority of Indonesians agree in principle that other people’s religions and faiths should be respected, this does not consistently translate to everyday life, according to a new survey.
The survey, which was released on Saturday, found that 95.4 percent of 2,500 people questioned across the country believed that religious freedom should be respected. It was conducted jointly by the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) and Syarif Hidayatullah University in Jakarta.
The results were unveiled on Saturday by lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari, who said the reality of events playing out across Indonesia did not reflect this broad consensus.
“This means that people’s tolerance for religious differences is just intellectual discourse or a moral commitment,” she said. “It’s not yet at the level of action or political commitment.”
Forty-six percent of respondents said they would not accept an interreligious marriage among their immediate family members, underlining the disconnect between honoring religious difference in theory and in practice.
Eva said the survey also showed there was a very low level of implementation of the state’s founding ideology, Pancasila, which stipulates equal footing for all religions.
She said only 3 percent of those questioned said they consciously applied Pancasila. The rest said they did not go out of their way to implement it.
“This contradicts the fact that the results of the survey found that the majority of people, or 90 percent of Indonesians, agree that Pancasila should provide a foundation for everyday action and life,” she said.
The survey’s results, she said, should serve as a serious warning for the MPR and the government that Pancasila is increasingly losing its meaning as an ideology for the nation.
“Seventy-seven percent of the people questioned also expressed concerns that globalization and foreign values and ideologies were pushing out Pancasila,” Eva said.
Meanwhile, thousands of representatives of the country’s six officially recognized religions gathered on Sunday at the House of Representatives in Jakarta to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week. The theme of the gathering was “Diversity Creates Harmony in Indonesia.”
Among those present were Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of the country’s second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, Andreas Sewangu of the Indonesian Bishops Council and I Nyoman Udayana of the Indonesian Hindu Dharma Association. Also present were Philip Wijaya from the Buddhist Council and Wawan Wiratman from the Confucian High Council, among others.
“On this occasion, we pledge that there is no religion in Indonesia that refuses to allow diversity,” Syamsuddin said.
“Do not always look for what is different, but look to our similarities to live in harmony and peace in Indonesia.”
Those present also expressed a commitment to maintain harmony in the society and state, under the ideology of Pancasila.
MPR chairman Taufik Kiemas vowed to support every program that promoted interfaith tolerance in the country.
“Each year, the MPR will support events that renew pledges of commitment to interfaith harmony in Indonesia,” he said.
Udayana said the state had a responsibility to maintain interfaith harmony in Indonesia.
“The state guarantees freedom of religion,” he said. “There should be no discrimination between the majority and minority.”
Hajriyanto Thohari, deputy chairman of the MPR, said state institutions should work closely with religious groups to promote unity in diversity and the recognition of the pluralistic nature of the nation.
He also agreed that while most people professed an acceptance of Pancasila and pluralism, this was mainly in theory and not in actual practice.