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Religion in Indonesia (2010)[1]

  Islam (87.2%)
  Hinduism (1.7%)
  Buddhism (0.7%)
  Confucianism (0.05%)
  Other religions/no answer (0.45%)
Indonesia religions map

Indonesia is officially a republic with a compromise made between the ideas of an Islamic state and a secular state.[2][3][4] Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population[5][6] and the first principle of Indonesia's philosophical foundation Pancasila requires its citizens to "believe in the one and only God".[7][8] Consequently, atheists in Indonesia experience official discrimination in the context of registration of births and marriages and the issuance of identity cards.[9] In addition, the Aceh province officially enforces the Sharia law and is notorious for its discriminatory practices towards religious and sexual minorities.[10][11] There are also pro-Sharia movements in other parts of the country with overwhelming Muslim majorities.[12]

A number of different religions are practised in the country, and their collective influence on the country's political, economic and cultural life is significant. The Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.[13] However, the government recognises only six official religions: Islam, Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.[14] According to the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Konstitusi) of 7 November 2017, the branches of beliefs (Indonesian: aliran kepercayaan), or ethnic religions, must be recognized and included in an Indonesian identity card.[15][16] Based on data collected by the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), there are about 245 unofficial religions in Indonesia.[17]

Indonesian law requires that every citizen hold an identity card that identifies that person with one of these six religions, but citizens are able to leave that section blank.[9] Indonesia does not recognise agnosticism or atheism, and blasphemy is illegal.[18] In the 2010 Indonesian census, 87.18% of Indonesians identified themselves as Muslim (with Sunnis about 99%,[19] Shias about 1%[20][21] and Ahmadis 0.2%[9]), 7% Protestant Christian, 2.91% Catholic Christian, 1.69% Hindu, 0.72% Buddhist, 0.05% Confucianist, 0.13% other, and 0.38% unstated or not asked.[1]

Indonesia's political leadership has played an important role in the relations between groups, both positively and negatively, promoting mutual respect by affirming Pancasila but also promoting a Transmigration Program, which has caused a number of conflicts in the eastern region of the country.[22]


The Maritime Silk Road, connecting India and Indonesia.

Historically, immigration from India, China, Portugal, Arabia, and the Netherlands has been a major contributor to the diversity of religion and culture within the country.[23] However, these aspects have changed since some modifications have been made to suit the Indonesian culture.

The ancient Prambanan Hindu temple built in the 9th century, Java.

Prior to the arrival of the Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the popular religions in the region were thoroughly influenced by Dharmic religious philosophy through Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions were brought to Indonesia around the 2nd and 4th centuries, respectively, when Indian traders arrived on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, bringing their religion. Hinduism of Shaivite traditions started to develop in Java in the fifth century AD. The traders also established Buddhism in Indonesia which developed further in the following century and a number of Hindu and Buddhist influenced kingdoms were established, such as Kutai, Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Sailendra. The world's largest Buddhist monument, Borobudur, was built by the Kingdom of Sailendra and around the same time, the Hindu monument Prambanan was also built. The peak of Hindu-Javanese civilisation was the Majapahit Empire in the fourteenth century, described as a golden age in Indonesian history.[24]

Islam was introduced to Indonesia in the 13th century. Coming from Gujarat, India[23] (some scholars propose also the Arabian and Persian theories[25]), Islam spread through the west coast of Sumatra and then developed to the east in Java. This period also saw kingdoms established but this time with Muslim influence, namely Demak, Pajang, Mataram and Banten. By the end of the fifteenth century, 20 Islam-based kingdoms had been established, reflecting the domination of Islam in Indonesia.[26]

The Portuguese introduced Catholicism to Indonesia in the 16th century, notably to the island of Flores and to what was to become East Timor.[27][28]

Protestantism was first introduced by the Dutch in the 16th century with Calvinist and Lutheran influences. For the Dutch, economic benefit rather than religious conversion were paramount and missionary efforts avoided predominantly Muslim areas such as Java. The Dutch East India Company regulated the missionary work so it could serve its own interests and restricted it to the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.[29] Animist areas in eastern Indonesia, on the other hand, were the main focus Dutch conversion efforts, including Maluku, North Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Papua and Kalimantan. Later, Christianity spread from the coastal ports of Kalimantan and missionaries arrived among the Torajans on Sulawesi. Parts of Sumatra were also targeted, most notably the Batak people, who are predominantly Protestant today.[30][28]

Sukarno's Old Order period (till 1966) was characterized by "distrust" between religion and the state.[31] There were also significant changes to the relationship during the New Order era. Following an attempted coup in 1965 officially blamed on the Communist Party of Indonesia, around 1/2 million were killed in an anti-communist purge. The New Order government had tried to suppress the supporters of PKI, by applying a policy that everyone must choose a religion, since PKI supporters were mostly atheists.[32][33] As a result, every Indonesian citizen was required to carry personal identification cards indicating their religion. The policy resulted in a mass religion conversions, topped by conversions to Protestantism and Catholicism (Christianity). The same situation happened with Indonesians with Chinese ethnicity, who mostly were Confucianists. Because Confucianism was not one of the state recognised religions, many Chinese Indonesians were also converted to Christianity.[33]

State recognised religionsEdit


Prayer on Eid ul-Fitr at Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, the largest in Southeast Asia.

Sunni IslamEdit

The history of Islam in Indonesia is complex and reflects the diversity of Indonesian cultures.[5] There is evidence of Arab Muslim traders entering Indonesia as early as the 8th century.[34] Italian explorer Marco Polo is credited with the earliest known record of a Muslim community around 1297 AD, whom he referred to as a new community of Moorish traders in Perlak, Aceh.[35] Over the 15th and 16th century, the spread of the religion accelerated via the missionary work of Maulana Malik Ibrahim (also known as Sunan Gresik, originally from Samarkand) in Sumatra and Java and Admiral Zheng He (also known as Cheng Ho, from China) in north Java, as well as campaigns led by sultans that targeted Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms and various communities, with each trying to carve out a region or island for control. Four diverse and contentious sultanates emerged in northern and southern Sumatra, west and central Java, and southern Kalimantan. The sultants declared Islam as state religion and pursued war against each other as well as the Hindus and other non-Muslim infidels.[26]

Subsequently, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, animist communities and unbelievers bought peace by agreeing to pay jizya tax to a Muslim ruler, while others began adopting Islam to escape the tax.[36] Islam in Indonesia is in many cases less meticulously practised in comparison to Islam in the Middle East region, in some regions, people continued their old beliefs and adopted a syncretic version of Islam, [37] while others left and concentrated as communities in islands that they could defend, for example, Hindus of western Java (the Sundanese) moved to Bali and neighbouring small islands.[38] While this period of religious conflict and inter-Sultanate warfare was unfolding, and new power centers were attempting to consolidate regions under their control, European powers arrived.[38] The archipelago was soon dominated by the Dutch empire, who helped prevent inter-religious conflict, and slowly began the process of excavating, preserving and understanding the archipelago's ancient Hindu and Buddhist period, particularly in Java and the western islands.[39]

The vast majority of Indonesian Muslims (about 99%) practice Sunni Islam of the Shafi‘i school. Smaller numbers follow other schools (madhhabs),[19][40][41] and the Salafi movement.[42]

Main divisions of Islam in Indonesia are Traditionalism (for instance, organization Nahdlatul Ulama) and Modernism (Muhammadiyah etc.).[40] There are very important the orders of Sufism.[43]

With regard to the political expansion of Islam, after the resignation of Suharto, political parties were again permitted to declare an ideology other than Pancasila. Several Muslim parties formed with Shariah as their ideology and the Crescent Star Party came in 6th place in the Indonesian legislative election, 1999. However, in the Indonesian legislative election, 2009, the Crescent Star Party ranked only 10th, while parties characterised by moderate and tolerant Islamic interpretations had more significant success, such as the Prosperous Justice Party coming in 4th with nearly 8% of total votes.[44]

Shia IslamEdit

Shiism played an important role in the early period of the spread of Islam in North Sumatra and Java.[20][45] Nowadays, there are approximately 1—3 million Shias-Twelvers at Sumatra, Java, Madura and Sulawesi islands, and also Shias-Ismaili in Bali, which approximates more 1% of the total Muslim population.[46][16] For instance, Shias are segments of the Arab IndonesiansHadrami.[47] The main organization is “Ikatan Jamaah Ahlulbait Indonesia” (IJABI).[48]


The earliest history of Ahmadi Muslims in Indonesia dates back to the summer of 1925, when roughly two decades prior to the Indonesian revolution, a missionary of the Community, Rahmat Ali, stepped on Sumatra, and established the movement with 13 devotees in Tapaktuan, in the province of Aceh.[49] The Community has had an influential history in Indonesia's religious development, yet in modern times it has faced increasing intolerance from religious establishments in the country and physical hostilities from radical Muslim groups.[50] In Ahmadiyya organization Jamaah Muslim Ahmadiyah Indonesia (JMAI) there are an estimated 400.000 followers, which equates to 0.2% of the total Muslim population,[9] spread over 542 branches across the country; in contrast to independent estimates, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Indonesia) estimates around 80.000 members.[49]

The another, a separatist group, Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam, known as Gerakan Ahmadiyah-Lahore Indonesia (GAI) in Indonesia, exists at Java since 1924 and had only 708 members in the 1980s.[49]


The Government of Indonesia officially recognises the two main Christian divisions in Indonesia, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, as two separate religions.


A Church in Bukit Doa Getsemane Sanggam, Ambarita, Samosir, North Sumatra.

Protestantism is largely a result of Dutch Reformed and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country's colonial period.[51][30][52] The Dutch Reformed Church was long at the forefront in introducing Christianity to native peoples, and was later joined by other Reformed churches that separated from it during the 19th century.[53] The Dutch East India Company regulated the missionary work so it could serve its own interests and restricted it to the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.[54] Although these two branches are the most common, a multitude of other denominations can be found elsewhere in Indonesia.[55]

Protestants form a significant minority in some parts of the country. Statistically, 7% of the total population declared themselves Protestant in a nationwide census conducted in 2010. For example, on the island of Sulawesi, 17% of the citizens are Protestants, particularly in Tana Toraja regency in South Sulawesi province and Central Sulawesi. Furthermore, up to 65% of the ethnic Torajan population is Protestant. The Batak from North Sumatra is also one of the major Protestant groups in Indonesia, comprises around 65% out of all ethnic population. Christianity was brought by German Lutheran missionary Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen who is known as apostle to the Batak people and started the Batak Christian Protestant Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan).[56][57][55]

Chinese Indonesians are also significant part of the Protestant population, scattered throughout Indonesia with the majority concentrated in major urban areas. In 2000 approximately 35% of ethnic Chinese were Christian, however there is continuous increase among the younger generation. In some parts of the country, entire villages belong to a distinct denomination, such as Adventist, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Lutheran, Presbyterian or Salvation Army (Bala Keselamatan) depending on the success of missionary activity.[55]

Indonesia has 3 Protestant-majority provinces, which are West Papua, Papua and North Sulawesi, with 60%, 68% and 64% of the total population respectively. In Papua, the faith is most widely practised among the native Papuan population. In North Sulawesi, the Minahasan population centred around Manado converted to Christianity in the 19th century. Today most of the population native to North Sulawesi practice some form of Protestantism, while transmigrants from Java and Madura practice Islam. The practitioners mostly live in North Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku, Maluku (province), West Papua (province), Papua (province).[51][52][55]

Roman CatholicismEdit

Catholicism arrived in Indonesia during the Portuguese arrival with spice trading over the 14th and 15th century. Many Portuguese had the goal of spreading Roman Catholicism in Indonesia, starting with Moluccas (Maluku) in 1534. Between 1546 and 1547, the pioneer Christian missionary, Saint Francis Xavier, visited the islands and baptised several thousand locals. During the Dutch East Indies (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) era, the number of Roman Catholicism practitioners fell significantly, due to VOC policy to ban the religion. Hostility of the Dutch toward Catholicism is due to its history where the Protestant Dutch gained their independence after the Eighty Years War against Catholic Spain's rule. The most significant result was on the island of Flores and East Timor, where VOC concentrated. Moreover, Roman Catholic priests were sent to prisons or punished and replaced by Protestant clergy from the Netherlands. One Roman Catholic priest was executed for celebrating Mass in a prison during Jan Pieterszoon Coen's tenure as Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. After the VOC collapsed and with the legalisation of Catholicism in the Netherlands starting around 1800, Dutch Catholic clergy predominated until after Indonesia's independence.[53][27][52][58]

Other than Flores, Central Java also have significant numbers of Catholics. Catholicism started to spread in Central Java when Frans van Lith, a priest from The Netherlands came to Muntilan, Central Java in 1896. Initially, his effort did not produce a satisfying result, until 1904 when four Javanese chiefs from Kalibawang region asked him to give them education in the religion. On 15 December 1904, a group of 178 Javanese were baptised at Semagung, Muntilan, district Magelang, Central Java, near the border of province DI Yogyakarta.[59]

As of 2010, 3% of all Indonesians are Catholics, near half the number of Protestants at 7%.[1] The practitioners mostly live in West Kalimantan, Papua (province) and East Nusa Tenggara. The province of East Nusa Tenggara where the island of Flores and West Timor located is notable as the only province in Indonesia where Catholics are majority (about 54.14% of total population). In Java, next to Javanese, Catholicism also spread to Chinese Indonesian.[53][60] In the present day, Catholic traditions close to Easter days remain, locally known as Semana Santa. It involves a procession carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary (locally referred to as Tuan Ana and Tuan Ma respectively) to a local beach, then to Cathedral of the Queen of the Rosary, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Larantuka, Flores.[61]


A prayer ceremony at Pura Besakih, Bali.

Hindu culture and religion arrived in Indonesia around the 2nd century AD, which later produced a number of Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms such as Kutai, Medang, and Majapahit. The largest Hindu temple in Indonesia Prambanan built during the Majapahit kingdom by the Sanjaya dynasty. This kingdom lived until the 16th century, when the Islamic empire began to develop, this period known as the Hindu-Indonesian period.[62]

Hinduism in Indonesia takes on a tone distinct from other parts of the world.[63][64] For instance, Hinduism in Indonesia, referred as Agama Hindu Dharma, just formally applied the caste system.[65] It also incorporated native Austronesian elements that revered hyangs, deities and spirits of nature and deceased ancestors. The Hindu religious epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are expressed in uniquely Indonesian wayang puppetry and dance. All practitioners of Agama Hindu Dharma share many common beliefs, mostly the Five Points of Philosophy: the Panca Srada. These include the belief in one Almighty God (Brahman), belief in the souls and myriad of local and ancestral spirits and karma or the belief in the law of reciprocal actions. Rather than belief in cycles of rebirth and reincarnation. In addition, the religion focuses more on art and ritual rather than scriptures, laws and beliefs.[63][66]

As of 2010, the official number of Hindu practitioners was 4 million (1.7% of Indonesians),[1] this number is disputed by the representative of Hinduism in Indonesia and may be 10 million[9] giving Indonesia the fourth largest number of Hindus in the world. the Parisada Hindu Dharma. Of this number, the absolute majority of the practitioners are located in Bali and merged within the organization Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia. Besides Bali, Sumatra, Java, Lombok, Kalimantan and Sulawesi also have significant Hindu populations; most are Balinese who migrated to these areas through government sponsored transmigration program or urbanised Balinese attracted to cities in Java, especially the Greater Jakarta area. The Tamil Indonesians in Medan represents another important concentration of Hindus.[9]

There are indigenous religions those are incorporated into the Hinduism (not all followers agree): Hindu Kaharingan of Dayak people;[67] Javanese Hinduism of Tenggerese tribe;[68] Hindu Tolotang of Bugis;[69] and Aluk Todolo of Toraja.[70]

In many areas on Java, Hinduism and Islam have heavily influenced each other, in part resulting in Abangan and Kejawèn (Kebatinan) traditions.[37]

There are presented also some international Hindu reform movements, e.g., International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Sathya Sai Organization,[9] Chinmaya Mission, Brahma Kumaris, Ananda Marga, Sahaja Yoga, and Haidakhandi Samaj.[71]


The Buddha statue at Borobudur temple, Magelang, Central Java.

Buddhism is the second oldest religion in Indonesia, arriving around the sixth century. The history of Buddhism in Indonesia is closely related to the history of Hinduism, as a number of empires based on Buddhist culture were established around the same period. Indonesian archipelago has witnessed the rise and fall of powerful Buddhist empires such as Sailendra dynasty, Srivijaya and Mataram Empires. The arrival of Buddhism was started with the trading activity that began in the early of first century on the Silk Road between Indonesia and India. According to some Chinese source, a Chinese traveller monk on his journey to India, witnessed the powerful maritime empire of Srivijaya based on Sumatra. The empire also served as a Buddhist learning centre in the region. A number of historical heritage monuments can be found in Indonesia, including the Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta and statues or prasasti (inscriptions) from the earlier history of Buddhist empires.[62]

Following the downfall of President Sukarno in the mid-1960s, Pancasila was reasserted as the official Indonesian policy on religion to only recognise monotheism.[72] As a result, founder of Perbuddhi (Indonesian Buddhists Organisation), Bhikku Ashin Jinarakkhita, proposed that there was a single supreme deity, Sanghyang Adi Buddha. He was also backed up with the history behind the Indonesian version of Buddhism in ancient Javanese texts, and the shape of the Borobudur Temple.[73]

According to the 2010 national census, roughly 0,7% of the total citizens of Indonesia are Buddhists, which takes up about 2 million people.[1] Most Buddhists are concentrated in Jakarta, although other provinces such as Riau, North Sumatra and West Kalimantan also have a significant number of practitioners. However, these totals are likely high, due to the fact that practitioners of Confucianism and Taoism, which are not considered official religions of Indonesia, referred to themselves as Buddhists on the census. Today, most Buddhists are to be found among Chinese Indonesians and, to a lesser extent, among Javanese and Bali people. Among the Indonesian Buddhists are all major Buddhist schools: Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Theravada. Most Chinese Indonesians follow a syncretic flow with Chinese beliefs, such as Three teachings (Tridharma) and also Yiguandao (Maytreya).[74]


A Chinese temple of Sanggar Agung, in Surabaya, East Java.

Confucianism originated in China and was brought to Indonesia by Chinese merchants, as early as the 3rd century AD. Unlike other religions, Confucianism evolved more into loose individual practices and belief in the code of conduct, rather than a well-organized community religion with a firm theology—it was more like a way of life or social movement than a religion. It was not until the early 1900s that Confucianists formed an organisation, called Khong Kauw Hwe (THHK) in Batavia (now Jakarta).[75][76][77]

After the independence of Indonesia in 1945, Confucianism in Indonesia was affected by several political conflicts. In 1965, Sukarno issued Presidential Decree No. 1/Pn.Ps/1965, recognising that six religions are embraced by the Indonesian people, including Confucianism. In 1961, the Association of Khung Chiao Hui Indonesia (PKCHI) (now the Supreme Council for the Confucian Religion in Indonesia) had declared that Confucianism is a religion and Confucius is their prophet.[78][77]

Under the New Order regime of Suharto, anti-China policy became a scapegoat method to gain political support from the masses, especially after the fall of the Indonesian Communist Party, which had allegedly been backed by China. In 1967, Suharto issued controversial Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967, which effectively banned Chinese culture, including documents printed in Chinese, expressions of Chinese belief, Chinese celebrations and festivities, and even Chinese names. However, Suharto knew that the Chinese Indonesian community had a lot of wealth and power even though it consisted of only 3% of the population.[78][77]

In 1969, Statute No. 5/1969 was passed, restoring the official total of six religions. However, it was not always put into practice. In 1978, the Minister of Home Affairs issued a directive asserting there are only five religions, excluding Confucianism. On 27 January 1979, a presidential cabinet meeting decided that Confucianism is not a religion. Another Minister of Home Affairs directive in 1990 re-iterated the total of five official religions in Indonesia.[78][77]

Therefore, the status of Confucianism in Indonesia in the New Order regime was never clear. De jure, there were conflicting laws, because the higher law permitted Confucianism, but the lower law did not recognise it. De facto, Confucianists were not recognised by the government and they were forced to become Christians or Buddhists to maintain their citizenship. This practice was applied in many places, including the national registration card, marriage registration, and family registration card. Civics education in Indonesia taught school children that there are only five official religions.[78][77]

Following the fall of Suharto in 1998, Abdurrahman Wahid was elected as the country's fourth president. Wahid rescinded Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967 and the 1978 Minister of Home Affairs directive. Confucianism once again became officially recognised as a religion in Indonesia. Chinese culture and Chinese-affiliated activities were again permitted. However, after the implementation of Otonomi Daerah (Regional Autonomy), provinces and regencies were permitted to control their own administrative procedures. In 2014, there are again administrative districts that only permit five possible religious affiliations on the national identity card, a restriction that they have programmed into their computer databases.[76][77]

Indigenous religionsEdit

Nias tribesmen moving and erecting a megalith, ca. 1915.

A number of ancestral animistic indigenous religions (Austronesian ethnic beliefs) which dominated throughout the archipelago before entering foreign religions. Some of them still exists in some parts of Indonesia as pure or syncretic, namely religions:

The non-official number of ethnic believers is up to 20 million.[16] The government of Indonesia often views indigenous beliefs as adat (custom) rather that agama (religion) or as a variant of a recognised religion. Because the government did not recognise animism indigenous tribal belief systems as official religion, as a result followers of various native animistic religions such as Dayak Kaharingan have identified themselves as Hindu to avoid pressure to convert to Islam or Christianity. Several native tribal beliefs such as Sunda Wiwitan, Toraja Aluk Todolo, and Batak Parmalim — although different from Indian influenced Balinese Hinduism — might seek affiliation with Hinduism to survive, while at the same time also preserving their distinction from mainstream Indonesian Hinduism dominated by Balinese. In many cases, some of the followers of these native beliefs might convert to Christianity or Islam, at least registered as such on their Indonesian identity card (KTP), but still uphold and perform their native beliefs.[80]

However, the branches of beliefs (Indonesian: aliran kepercayaan) (native religions) Indonesia are already also partly recognized according to the Decision of the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi) dated 7 November 2017 No. 97/PUU-XIV/2016, ruled that the Law which requires for people whose “religion is not recognized” or followers of indigenous religions (“Believers of the Faith”) leave blank the religion column on identity documents, is contrary to the constitution.[15][16]

Kejawèn (Javanese beliefs)Edit

Nyai Roro Kidul, the Goddess of the Southern Sea according to Javanese Kejawen and Sunda Wiwitan religion.

Kejawèn (Javanese beliefs) or Kebatinan is an amalgam of animism, Hindu-Buddhist, and Islamic — especially Sufi — beliefs. The beliefs is rooted in Javanese history and spiritualism with the tendency to syncretise aspects of different religions in search of the common ground. Kejawèn is generally characterised as mystical, and some varieties were concerned with spiritual self-control. Although there were many varieties circulating in 1992, Kejawèn often implies pantheistic worship because it encourages sacrifices and devotions to local and ancestral spirits. These spirits are believed to inhabit natural objects, human beings, artefacts, and grave sites of important wali (Muslim saints). Illness and other misfortunes are traced to such spirits, and if sacrifices or pilgrimages fail to placate angry deities, the advice of a dukun or healer is sought. Kejawèn, while it connotes a turning away from the militant universalism of orthodox Islam, moves toward a more internalised universalism. In this way, Kebatinan moves toward eliminating the distinction between the universal and the local, the communal and the individual.[81]

The Kejawèn have no certain prophet, sacred book, nor distinct religious festivals and rituals; it has more to do with each adherents internalised transcendental vision and beliefs in their relations with others and with the supreme being. As the result there is an inclusiveness that the kebatinan believer could identify themselves with one of six officially recognised religions, at least in their identity card, while still subscribe to their kebatinan belief and way of life. This loosely organised current of thought and practice was legitimised in the 1945 constitution and, in 1973, when it was recognised as Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa (Indonesian: Believer of One Supreme God) that somewhat gain the status as one of the agama, President Suharto counted himself as one of its adherents.[82]

The formal Kejawen/Kebatinan movements are Subud, Sumarah, Pangestu, Amerta, and others.[83]


Subud is an international spiritual movement that began in Indonesia in the 1920s as a movement related to Sufism and Javanese beliefs founded by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. (The name Subud was first used in the late 1940s when Subud was legally registered in Indonesia.) The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise commonly referred to as the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to be guidance from "the Power of God" or "the Great Life Force".[84][85]

Muhammad Subuh saw the present age as one that demands personal evidence and proof of religious or spiritual realities, as people no longer just believe in words. He claimed that Subud is not a new teaching or religion but only that the latihan kejiwaan itself is the kind of proof that humanity is looking for. There are now Subud groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10.000.[85]


Indonesian social-religious Saminism Movement rejected the capitalist views of the colonial Dutch, was founded by Surontiko Samin in north-central Java in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[86]

Black magicEdit

A dukun is a Malay term for shaman. Their societal role is that of a traditional healer, spirit medium, custom and tradition experts and on occasion sorcerers and masters of black magic. In common usage, the dukun is often confused with another type of shaman, the pawang. It is often mistranslated into English as "witch-doctor" or "medicine man". Many self-styled dukun in Indonesia are simply scammers and criminals, preying on gullible and superstitious people who were raised to believe in the supernatural.[87]

Other religions, beliefs, and atheismEdit


The early Sephardi Jews establishment in the archipelago came from Portugal and Spain in the 17th century.[88] In the 1850s, about 20 Jewish families of Dutch and German origins lived in Jakarta (then Batavia). Some lived in Semarang and Surabaya. Several Baghdadi Jews also settled in the island. Prior to 1945, there were about 2.000 Dutch Jews in Indonesia. Some Jews even converted to Christianity or Islam during the Japanese Occupation, when Jews were sent to internment camps, and the War of Independence, when Eurasians were targeted. In 1957, it was reported around 450 Jews remained, mainly Ashkenazim in Jakarta and Sephardim in Surabaya. The community decreased to 50 in 1963. In 1997, there were only 20 Jews, some of them in Jakarta and a few Baghdadi families in Surabaya.[89]

Jews in Surabaya maintained a synagogue for many years, with sporadic support from relatives and co-religionists residing in Singapore. Beth Shalom closed in 2009 after radical groups protested against Israel's assault on the Gaza War (2008–09). Soon afterward, it was designated a heritage site by the Surabaya government, but it was demolished in May 2013 without warning, as part of a mysterious real estate deal.[90]

Since 2003, "Shaar Hashamayim" synagogue has been serving the local Jewish community of some 20 people in Tondano city, North Sulawesi, which is attended by around 10 Orthodox Jews (Hasidic Chabad group). Currently it is the only synagogue in Indonesia that provides services.[90][88]

The organization "The United Indonesian Jewish Community" (UIJC) has been formed since 2009 and inaugurated in October 2010.[88] In 2015, the first official Jewish center, "Beit Torat Chaim", was inaugurated by the Religious Affairs Ministry of the Indonesian government. It is located in Jakarta and will be led by Rabbi Tovia Singer.[91]

Bahá'í FaithEdit

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives in the Bahá'í Faith in Indonesia had 22,115 adherents in 2005.[92]

Indonesia's Bahais are subject to a measure of government discrimination.[93][94] Since 2014, the situation has improved in the plans of the government for the possible recognition of this new religion (there is an erroneous opinion on already held the official recognition of the Bahai in 2014).[95][96]


Sikhs migration to Indonesia began in the 1870s (guardians and traders). There are several gurdwaras and schools in Sumatra and Java, for example, in Medan was built in 1911. In 2015 was founded “Supreme Council for the Sikh Religion in Indonesia”. Apart from the orthodox Sikhism in Indonesia represented the Sikh reformist movement Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB).[97]

Numbering about 7.000 (or between 10.000 and 15.000[9]), Sikhs are not included in the six religions recognized in the state, that's why filling in the religion column on their card KTP with the word “Hindu”.[98]


A small Jain community “Jain Social Group Indonesia (JSG Indonesia)” exists in Jakarta among Indian Indonesians.[99]

Chinese folk religionEdit

New religious movementsEdit

The most famous of the new religious movements in Indonesia are Theosophical Society,[100] Transcendental Meditation movement,[101] Falun Gong,[9] and originated in Indonesia Eden community (Jamaah Alamulla).[9][102]


Although there is no specific law that bans atheism, legal cases in which atheists have been charged with blasphemy for publicly expressing atheist points of view have raised the issue of whether it is de facto illegal to do so according to Pancasila, the state ideology. Some clerics invoke first Pancasila principle to argue that it is indeed illegal, while legal scholars say that that principle was adopted as a compromise between secular nationalist, Muslim and non-Muslim founding fathers, and not intended to ban atheism. Nonetheless, atheists as a group tend not to express their atheism publicly for fear of prosecution.[103][104]

In 2012, atheist civil servant Alexander Aan was sentenced to thirty months in prison for writing "God doesn't exist" on his Facebook page and sharing explicit material about the Prophet Muhammad online,[105][106] sparking nationwide debate.[107] Alexander's lawyers speculated that there were only 2,000 or so atheists in Indonesia, but stated that it was difficult to estimate due to the threat of imprisonment for open atheism.[107]

Interfaith relationsEdit

Although the Indonesian government recognises a number of different religions, inter-religious conflicts have occurred. In the New Order era, former President Suharto proposed the Anti-Chinese law which prohibits anything related to Chinese culture, including names and religions. Between 1966 and 1998, Suharto made an effort to "de-Islamicise" the government, by maintaining a large proportion of Christians in his cabinet. However, in the early 1990s, the issue of Islamisation appeared, and the military split into two groups, the Nationalist and Islamic camps. The Islamic camp, led by General Prabowo Subianto, was in favour of Islamisation, while General Wiranto was in the Nationalist group, in favour of a secular state. [32][7][108][33]

During the Suharto era, the Indonesian transmigration program continued, after it was initiated by the Dutch East Indies government in the early nineteenth century. The intention of the program was to move millions of Indonesians from over-crowded populated Java, Bali and Madura to other less populated regions, such as Ambon, Lesser Sunda Islands and Papua. It has received much criticism, being described as a type of colonisation by the Javanese and Madurese, who also brought Islam to non-Muslim areas. Citizens in western Indonesia are mostly Muslims with Christians a small minority, while in eastern regions the Christian populations are similar in size or larger than Muslim populations. This more even population distribution has led to more religious conflicts in the eastern regions, including Poso riots and Maluku sectarian conflict communal violence since the resignation of President Suharto.[109]

The government has made an effort to reduce the tension by proposing the inter-religion co-operation plan. The Foreign Ministry, along with the biggest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, Nahdatul Ulama, held the International Conference of Islamic Scholars, to promote Islamic moderation, which is believed to reduce the tension in the country.[110] On 6 December 2004, the "Dialogue On Interfaith Cooperation: Community Building and Harmony" conference was opened. The conference, attended by ASEAN countries, Australia, East Timor, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea was intended to discuss possible co-operation between different religious groups to minimise inter-religious conflict in Indonesia.[110]

Nevertheless, the 2010 report to the United States Congress by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted attacks against the Shia communities in Indonesia, particularly in East Java and Madura in 2007–2012. In one incident in Madura, local villagers surrounded Shia houses and demanded they desist religious activities, but the crowd was dispersed by local leaders and clergy.[45][46]

On the issue of Ahmadiyyah Muslim community, Indonesia has failed to act and uphold their human rights. Several Ahmadi mosques were burnt in 2008. 126 Ahmadis have become refugees within their own country in the four years prior to 2012.[50]

There is however, indications that religious conflicts regarding erection of place of worships have more to do with business interest than in religious issues. For example, dispute over a Bethel Injil Sepenuh Church (GBIS) in Jakarta was due to land dispute dating back to 1957, while the Indonesia Christian Church (GKI) Taman Yasmin dispute in Bogor was due to municipal government plan to turn the church's area into business district. The Taman Yasmin Church in Bogor has been upheld and protected by Supreme Court of Indonesia, but the mayor of Bogor refused to comply the court ruling.[111][112]

Positive form of relations have also appeared in the society, such as the effort from six different religious organisations to help the 2004 Tsunami victims. In 2011, the interfaith “Indonesia Sunni and Shia Council” (MUHSIN) was established."RI Sunni-Shia Council established". The Jakarta Post. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2019.

Census data regarding religionEdit

Religion was a census variable in the 1961, 1971, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 Indonesian census and in various intercensal surveys. Due to deemed divisiveness, 1961 census data regarding religion was not published. In 1971, three groups of Christians were recorded: Catholic, Protestant and other. The U.N. Demographic Yearbook 1979 only lists data collectively for all Christians. In 2000 census, only Catholics and Protestants were available as categories.[113]

Religion Data in Indonesia Census
(Population in millions and Percent)
  1971[114][115] 1980[116][117] 1985[118] 1990[118][119][120][121] 2000[118][122][123] 2005[118] 2010[1]
Muslim 103.58 87.51% 128.46 87.94% 142.59 86.92% 156.32 87.21% 177.53 88.22% 189.01 88.58% 207,18 87.18%
Protestant 8.74 7.39% 8.51 5.82% 10.59 6.46% 10.82 6.04% 11.82 5.87% 12.36 5.79% 16.53 6.96%
Catholic 4.36 2.98% 5.14 3.13% 6.41 3.58% 6.13 3.05% 6.56 3.07% 6.91 2.91%
Hindu 2.30 1.94% 4.76 3.26% 3.18 1.94% 3.29 1.83% 3.65 1.81% 3.70 1.73% 4.01 1.69%
Buddhist 1.09 0.92% 1.60 0.98% 1.84 1.03% 1.69 0.84% 1.30 0.61% 1.70 0.72%
Confucian[124] 0.97 0.82% 0.95 0.58% 0.57 0.32% 0.41 0.20% 0.21 0.10% 0.12 0.05%
Other 1.69 1.42% 0.24 0.11% 0.30 0.13%
Unstated 0.14 0.06%
Not asked 0.76 0.32%
Total[125] 118.37   146.08   164.05   179.25   201.24   213.38   237.64  

Note: the drop in the Catholic population between 1990 and 2000 was due to the secession of East Timor in 1999.

Religious Composition by ethnic group (2010 Census)Edit

Ethnic Group Muslims Christians Hindus Buddhists Confucians Others Total
Javanese 92,107,046 2,428,121 150,855 90,465 2,857 9,599 94,788,943
Sundanese 36,450,022 181,402 1,851 24,528 4,854 3,235 36,665,892
Malay 8,643,370 85,484 1,031 19,848 1,243 242 8,751,218
Batak 3,738,660 4,707,658 1,476 9,190 315 6,305 8,463,604
Madurese 7,157,518 7,695 368 435 32 43 7,166,091
Betawi 6,607,019 151,429 1,161 39,278 1,805 252 6,800,944
Minangkabau 6,441,071 16,822 179 1,255 49 44 6,459,420
Buginese 6,348,200 35,516 26,102 957 47 2,395 6,413,217
Bantenese 4,634,374 4,810 101 2,680 70 242 4,642,277
Banjarese 4,108,104 15,775 994 1,396 62 410 4,126,741
Balinese 127,274 49,385 3,736,993 10,378 142 473 3,924,645
Acehnese 3,398,818 4,034 70 1,028 7 4 3,403,961
Dayak 1,016,697 2,017,870 12,140 17,502 568 154,219 3,218,996
Sasak 3,153,671 5,540 4,555 10,682 7 439 3,174,894
Chinese 131,682 1,211,692 3,552 1,388,829 94,005 1,114 2,830,874
Others 23,057,923 12,436,323 63,909 73,027 9,422 117,848 35,758,452
Total 207,121,449 23,359,556 4,005,337 1,691,478 115,485 296,864 236,590,169


See alsoEdit


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  114. ^ Demographic Yearbook 1979 (Population census statistics) (PDF) (31 ed.). New York: United Nations. 1980. p. 641 Table 29. Population by religion, sex and urban/rural residence: each census, 1970–1979. ISBN 978-0-8002-2882-8. OCLC 16991809.
  115. ^ C.I.C.R.E.D. cites SUSENAS TAHAP KEEMPAT – Sifat Demografi Penduduk Indonesia [National Survey of Social and Economic Fourth Round – Demographic Characteristics of the Population]. Jakarta: Biro Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics). 1969. for Table III.10 of "The Population of Indonesia, 1974 World Population Year", p. 31. However, due to inaccessibility of the data source for verification and data collection proximity to census year 1971, referenced 1969 data is not included in this article's table. The Population of Indonesia, 1974 World Population Year (PDF). C.I.C.R.E.D. 2. Jakarta: Lembaga Demografi (Demographic Institute), Universitas Indonesia. 1973. pp. 31–32. LCCN 77366078. OCLC 3362457. OL 4602999M. The statistical data on religion show that Islam has the highest percentage of adherents with about 87.1 per cent of the population of Indonesia (National Socio Economic Survey, 1969). The second biggest religion in Indonesia is Protestant (5.2%), while Catholic is the third (2.5%). The rest are Hindu (2.0%) and Buddhist (1.1%) and other religions which are not included in the above classification.
  116. ^ Aritonang; Steenbrink 2008, p. 216.
  117. ^ Unable to find online data for Sensus Penduduk 1980 (Penduduk Indonesia: hasil sensus penduduk. Jakarta: Badan Pusat Statistik, 1980). Unable to find online version of Buku Saku Statistik Indonesia 1982 [Statistical Pocketbook Of Indonesia 1982]. Jakarta, Indonesia: Biro Pusat Statistik. 1983. OCLC 72673205., which contains 1980 census data.
  118. ^ a b c d Cholil, Suhadi; Bagir, Zainal Abidin; Rahayu, Mustaghfiroh; Asyhari, Budi (August 2010). Annual Report on Religious Life in Indonesia 2009 (PDF). Max M. Richter, Ivana Prazic. Yogyakarta: Center for Religious & Cross-cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University. p. 15. ISBN 978-602-96257-1-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012.. Cites BPS-Statistics Indonesia for intercensal population survey 1985, census 1990, census 2000, and intercensal population survey 2005
  119. ^ Ricklefs, Merle Calvin (2001). A history of modern Indonesia since c. 1200 (3d ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0-8047-4480-5. The 1990 census recorded 156.3 million Muslims in Indonesia, 87.2 per cent of the population and the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world. This was a steady percentage, having been 87.1 per cent in 1980. Christians (Catholics and Protestants) totalled 17.2 million, 9.6 per cent of the population, whereas in 1971 the figure was 7.5 per cent and in 1980 it was 8.8 per cent. So Christianity was still growing. In the large cities of Central Java in particular, Christians constituted nearly 20 per cent of the population. The rising tide of religiosity was also reflected in the much smaller communities of Hindus (3.3 million, 1.8 per cent of the population in 1990) and Buddhists (1.8 million, 1.0 per cent of the population).
  120. ^ The 1990 census recorded 87.21% Muslims, 6.04% Protestants, 3.58% Catholics, 1.83% Hindus, 1.03% Buddhists and 0.31% as "Others". Population of Indonesia: Results of the 1990 Population (Jakarta: Biro Pusat Statistik, 1992), p. 24, as cited by
  121. ^ Intan 2006, p. 6.
  122. ^ "Special Census Topic 2000 Round (1995–2004)". Demographic Yearbook (Spreadsheet). New York: United Nations. 2b – Ethnocultural characteristics. 30 June 2006. ISSN 0082-8041. OCLC 173373970.
  123. ^ "Indonesia". The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. 18 October 2011. People and Society. ISSN 1553-8133. Retrieved 8 November 2011. Muslim 86.1%, Protestant 5.7%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 1.8%, other or unspecified 3.4% (2000 census)
  124. ^ In 1979, Soeharto retracted official recognition of Confucianism. Hence Confucianism appears in the 1971 census data, but not in 1980 or 1990. In 2000, Indonesia decided to separately categorize Confucianism only during the enumeration process, but did not actually list this option on the printed form. This is not listed as a separate category in the U.N. data. Utomo, Ariane J. (March 2003). "Indonesian Census 2000: Tables and Reports for AusAID Explanatory Notes" (PDF). Prof. Terence H. Hull. The Australian National University: 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. The six categories for religion were Islam, Catholicism, Protestant, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Other. The decision to have a separate category for Confucianism (Kong Hu Cu) occurred during the enumeration process itself, hence it was not printed in the actual form of the L1. The data on the number of Confucians is only available for certain provinces. However, the number seems much smaller than expected due to the abrupt process of including it in the questionnaire. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  125. ^ Totals and lefthand column per year are in millions of persons.
  126. ^ Aris Ananta, Evi Nurvidya Arifin, M Sairi Hasbullah, Nur Budi Handayani, Agus Pramono. Demography of Indonesia's Ethnicity. Singapore: ISEAS: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2015. P. 273.


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