Instead of dealing a bit more seriously with our heterogeneous society, we have been vigorously blending religion with politics, in the hope that holy and successful goals will be accomplished given the sacred power of religion itself.
Then the alarming threat pops up, since what religious teachings require of followers does not suit everybody. Furthermore, one cannot deny the catastrophic corruption cases perpetrated by our politicians no matter what their political parties bases are - religion or something else. We must be aware that religion is not a one-fits-all solution in this sinful world. The notion of the holiness of religion has been skewed for the sake of temporary ends embedded into political gains.
I bet when more religion is mixed with national politics, the bumpy road to democracy and prosperity will be longer. Why? Not because we are not a religious state (as of argued by many), but rather because it is a one-sided vision on different needs and people towards our highly diverse society whatever the religion is.
As a religion belongs to certain group of followers, we can hardly expect a group-generated, one-sided foundation to uphold the needs of different people when drafting state policy. On the contrary, democracy must not tolerate any discriminatory policy toward every single citizen. Using religion as a political instrument could create discrimination.
More obviously, prospective voters are lured by the religious symbols making up the parties' identity - holy, abiding, and unarguable missions. These parties' tricky stubbornness traps our democratic development phase into the traditional category.
On the other hand, it seems religion-affiliated parties are facing shrinking favoritism nowadays.
Social trends indicate that the dominant power of structural entity in society has lost its relevance. Religion, hierarchical position, kings, tribal leaders and so forth do not dictate what folks must say and follow any longer. And it's a positive sign for our political maturity.
I do believe, somehow, there should be an alternative strengthening relationship between religion and politics, such as a personal guidance of mandated responsibility in favor of a positive path and achievements. If it works, let it be privately clung to as a personal matter.
The religious and political arenas exist at different levels of the realm, so they tend to contradict. Human beings assert their stubbornness by pushing their greedy earthly interests before faith, putting religion in peril.
In the meantime, how people interpret their lives and the world through religion is determined by how they were taught religion at education institutions. No serious discussion has been held to dig and find solution to this situation. Surely, teachers have a huge effect on how students determine whether something is good or bad, false or true especially through the teaching of religion. The challenge is how to teach a religion in a religiously pluralist society as we step into this global era.
How should we deal with this phenomenon?
First, I think we should change the way we teach religion. Teaching religion should be for the purpose of building students' spirituality as they are encouraged to comprehend how and why they were created - to personally embrace divine virtues of the God in their interests.
Teaching a religion by pointing at others' at the same time for conviction is definitely misleading. If we want to find truth we should leave aside our subjective purpose, so we may purely understand what and why we're born human beings.
There's nothing wrong with the reality people that don't accept pluralism by teaching their own religion, and we shouldn't have expected this to be so. That's right. I do not think religion owes something to plurality.
Second, as a response to the first, I propose we teach philosophy in education institutions starting from senior high school. We will incur a wide array of benefits from bringing philosophy into schools (Michael Hand & C. Winstanley *ed.* Philosophy in Schools, 2008).
These benefits stem from its relevance for children's own interests and development thought process, its unique relation to critical thinking, its ability to promote responsible democratic citizenship, and its role in the development of autonomy and self-understanding. But most of all, philosophy has a place in the realm of understanding and has the ability to connect students to a long historical conversation about the enduring questions regarding the nature of the universe, our ability to know it and ourselves, and our obligations to other creatures.
Finally, to achieve the goal we can create a comprehensive culturally sensitive curriculum at schools not bound to any religion. A framework of curricula is a prospective subject module truly aimed at disseminating cultural values to enhance daily interaction.
Frederich Nietchze said, "God is dead" - The God we praised through our own religions might be dead already due to out hypocritical and sinful lives in the world.
It is not the religion, but our practice of religion that paralyzes the essence of religion itself, implying that "in religion we lie".
The writer is a sociology teacher at the Dian Harapan School.