Government Regulation of Religion

Aug 4th, 2006, in News, by

Indonesia scores poorly on an index of the level of government, and social, interference in religious affairs.

The Association of Religion Data Archives figures for Indonesia.

Scores are based on a scale of 0-10, 0 being none at all, 10 being an extreme level.

  • Government Regulation of Religion, – 6.1
  • Government Favoritism of Religion – 8
  • Social Regulation of Religion – 9.3

The first measure, of government regulation, Indonesia’s 6.1 score compares to an average for south-east Asia of 5.5, and a world average of 2.4. Goverment favoritism towards particular religions in south east asia averages 4.4, and in the world as a whole 3.8, thereby putting Indonesia’s 8 in a poor light. The final measure, social regulation, where Indonesia scores an almost totalitarian 9.3, sees the south eastern Asian score at 4.8, and the world at 2.9. Indonesians appear to take a great interest in the religious affairs of their neighbours, according to this survey.

The figures above seem to be based on data derived from the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for Indonesia.

On the broad scoring of religious freedom, using a scale of 1-7, 0 meaning total freedom of religion and 7 presumably meaning none or very little, Indonesia merits a 5, with the regional average at 4.9 and the global average at 3.7.

The Association of Religion Data Archives also claims that Muslims account for only 54% of the population, while Christians account for 13.5%, Hindus 3.4%, “Ethnoreligionists” 2.5%, “Chinese Universalists” 1.43%, and Buddhists 1%. Based on these numbers about 20% of Indonesians are non-religious or atheist, it seems. The figures appear to be based on data recorded in the World Christian Database, a subscription only service.

The CIA factbook figures (1998) for religious adherence in Indonesia puts the percentage of Muslims at 88% and Christians at 8%. It is likely that the ARDA is trying to measure religious observance rather than simple, and notional, affiliation, as seemingly recorded in the CIA figures.

10 Comments on “Government Regulation of Religion”

  1. O. Bule says:

    For a free society to thrive, complete separation of organized religions and the state must be strictly enforced. The government should have no interest in who worships what, when, where, and how (unless the how involves human sacrifice or something similar, as that would violate secular law against murder, kidnapping, etc.).

    O. Bule

  2. Oskar Syahbana says:

    And what do they say about European government? Most of them still doesn’t allow the construction of a mosque (and even transforming the old mosque from 18th-19th century to a museum). Do they score low?

  3. Sri says:


    Oskar where you get that idea? Holland, Germany, Sweden, England, France. There are mosques all over the place, big ones, small ones. Not just in big cities, plenty in villages as well. I am sure they all have the correct government permits, else they would be closed up or torn down.

    But I dont think the governments are so generous with funds to build them, not so much as before. A lot of that is raised either localy within the comunities or alms from the middle east.

    Of course its not up to governments to pay for buildings off worhip, thats responsibility of worshipers themselves.

  4. badai ismatu says:

    I know what is the source of this ‘government regulation of religion.” It is taken for grantedly from Brian J. Grian’s article on International Religion Indexes published in a new (unknown) journal of Interdisiplinary Journal of Research on Religion 2006. If you read entire article you will be surprised that this research is not intended only to examine Indonesia. It examine all countries, and Indonesian ranks about in the middle among hundreds countries. You can guess what is the reason to put this kind of blaming Indonesian government. And you know what? Grian’s category in this research is indeed misleading and the set of data he used (that is IFRF) is also dubious. How can we come to this shortcutted conclusion? Come on. Be fair and academic!!!

  5. psykz says:

    country needs to be neutral, not focusing on one religion only.
    if the country do that, then they will miss other point of views which will draws them back. i studied at US and I have friends who are Moslems from Indonesia and from other countries (like Lebanon, Arab, etc) and from US itself.

    sorry to say this, but our people do have that small point of view, where they always felt intimidated upon religion etc. Why?
    I believe this is caused due to fact the environment are too focused, one sided, and thus it affects their way of life etc.
    Government need to focus more on what structurize them, like education, economic, politics, wealth of people, etc.

    I.e: education: why don’t just eliminate dress code in public schools? people are suffering due to fact they have to pay dress code each time and each year tradition of signing dress can be eliminated by this solution. simple solution, yet due to certain factors, small factors such as this are always get overlooked.

  6. Tony says:

    Just a question: what’s the reason for having the religion on the ID?

  7. badai ismatu says:

    Having religion on the ID in Indonesian context means having identity. That is sort of political identity the former New Order regime required soon after the communist coup in 1965. Communism in Indonesia is always identical with atheism and in this kind of anti communism atmoshpere, being attached to one religious tradition was very urgent for life saving. This is also in accord with the Constitution that recognize God and religions for Indonesians.

  8. badai ismatu says:

    Psykz, you are right! A government should focus more on education as well as wealth of people in general instead of overlooking to religion. And that is a different philosophical underpinning between the US, European tradition and some Asian countries like Indonesia. We can have a long discussion for this. I am now doing my study here at ANU for this stuff.

  9. badai ismatu says:

    Sorry I made a mistake to put the name of writer of the article I mentioned. It should be read as Brian J Grim and Roger Finke from Pennsylvania State University. I knew that this two scholars have made intensive contribution on the field of sociology of religion.

  10. Keyonna says:

    Can you tell me what the Indonesian goverment is doing to help protect the Christian people of Indonesia from the Laskar Jihad? Also why has the Indonesian goverment allowed the Laskar Jihad to have so much power in their country? Also can you tell me about whats happening with the new Constitution that the Goverment of Indonesia is now at this present time making?

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