ICRS Held Interfaith Dialogue on Religious Freedom and Harmony in Indonesia

Friday, March 13th, 2020, 09:42 WIB

king of netherlands

Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Embassy organized interfaith dialogue entitle “Religious Freedom and Harmony in Indonesia: Promise and Peril” on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 in Prambanan Temple. Today, Indonesia has gone through a period of more than two decades of reformasi and democracy. With successive governments in place since 1999, the issue of religion remains to be a sensitive matter for the country. Various state policies have been institutionalized to manage religious diversity and the sociopolitical and cultural complications that it has created for both the state and society. 

While many religious programs and interfaith initiatives have been setup to bring religious communities together, friction and conflict among religious communities persist. Some of these conflicts have been related to issues of intolerance, freedom of worship, building of houses of worship, local political contestation and economic competition. 

At the same time, we are seeing an increasing trend in online religion and the various implications it has generated. Among them is the fragmentation of religious authority. In other words, people learn religion and get cues in life not only from their ‘traditional’ religious leaders, but also religious preachers in the Internet. This has generated, to a certain degree, the conservatism that is prevailing in many religious communities, which has ultimately contributed to the social polarization occurring in Indonesian society. 

This dialogue is therefore expected to get together religious scholars, activists and relevant parties in an engaging discussion entitled “Religious Freedom and Harmony in Indonesia: Promise and Peril”. This discussion forum is expected to be able to recall the main roles and functions of religion and beliefs, namely to humanize humans through helping people to be aware of their existence and to recognize themselves more in an effort to avoid the dehumanization process. 

In his remarks, Dr. Dicky Sofjan (Steering Committe of the Seminar) said that the dialogue is a promising opportunity to build a common understanding about harmony and peace for religious adherents in Indonesia. “This interfaith dialogue is really important because it brings together the different religious communities based in Yogyakarta and its surrounding areas. In this dialogue, we openly and honestly discussed various problems and challenges confronting the communities with respect to religious freedom and harmony”, Dr. Sofjan said. 

The interfaith dialogue be graced by the coming of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti of the Netherlands, His Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Stef Blok and His Excellency Ambassador Lambert Grijns of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta. 

“The coming of the King and Queen of the Netherlands is equally pertinent because as a nation we, Indonesians, are very proud of our religious diversity and like to showcase it. However, we are also aware of the fact that there are many issues to resolve among the various existing religious groups and faith communities”, Dr. Sofjan added.