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Jakarta Post

Commentary: 'Pribumi' faiths shouldn't be pariah in their own country

  • Ary Hermawan

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, November 14, 2017   /  08:29 am
Commentary: 'Pribumi' faiths shouldn't be pariah in their own country This photo taken on May 19, 2017 shows children from the 'Orang Rimba' tribe -- whose name translates as 'jungle people', who have been converted to Islam and given up their nomadic ways, wearing Islamic skullcaps and hijabs as they gather to recite the Koran, in the Batang Hari district of Jambi province. (AFP/Goh Chai Hin)

In many parts of the world, the debate over what constitutes a religion is just a matter of semantics, whereas the words “faith” and “religion” are often used interchangeably. As the old saying goes, one’s superstition is another man’s religion. But in Indonesia, the subject has long become a contentious political issue that could determine whether or not one could be elected president, or to any kind of public post. Great scholars on religion, like Reza Azlan, would argue that “faith” and “religion,” or “organized religion,” are two different things. Faith, they say, is constant, deeper and way more personal, while religion is changing, typically superficial, if not banal, and more impersonal. But the debate over what makes one’s belief a religion or a superstition is far less scholastic in Indonesia,...