A Positive Story about Indonesian Atheists December 7, 2010

A Positive Story about Indonesian Atheists

There’s a nice article making the rounds dealing with atheists in Indonesia, a country where you’re apparently free to choose your own religion, as long as you believe in a god:

Embedded within Indonesia’s constitution are the following two lines: “all persons have the right to worship according to their own religion or belief” and “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.”

Placed side by side, it’s almost as if those two lines take on a new meaning. Feel free to worship however you choose, but make sure you choose to worship.

… despite the overwhelming odds, the rank of non-believers is growing — largely thanks to the Internet which offers an anonymous meeting place where non-believers can gather without the fear of reprisal.

By utilizing social networking tools such as blogs and Facebook groups, Indonesian non-believers are discovering that there is a considerable amount of like-minded people in the country.

It’s a very positive article and the people featured are brave enough to use their real names. If they’re brave enough to do that, it has to encourage other atheists to at least anonymously begin to come out in that country… right? I hope so.

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  • Eddie

    And you can’t be a pantheist or a polytheist either it seems according to the constitution.

    Good news that they are finding groups on-line which are whilst not important to a person like me, they are a good support for those who are in a minority or are at potential of becoming prisoners of conscience.

    I can’t believe it can still be legal to dictate such on human beings. You can’t make someone think in a way.

  • Anonymous

    And this isn’t even the first article! Hooray.

    Metro Madness: Therapy for the Godless (Sept. 24)
    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifeandtimes/metro-madness-therapy-for-the-godless/397890

    I really hope this exposure doesn’t cause them any problems.

  • JohnJay

    Sounds like the State of Texas constitution (though its unenforceable)

    Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/htm/CN.1.htm#1.4

    Does the FSM count?

  • Richard P.

    I really hope this exposure doesn’t cause them any problems.

    I would think that the exposure will most likely cost. They seem to have put a lot of thought into what they are doing and are prepared to pay. It shows a lot of courage face the raving mad.

    I suddenly feel very lucky to be in a country that allows me to openly mock the delusion.

  • Yuri

    Don’t hold your breath…
    I’m an Indonesian, and I was a Muslim.
    The fundamentalist Muslims are very violent in this country, and not only the police and the government let them have their way, some actually support them.
    Plus there’s an anti blasphemy law in this country, which is basically used to protect Islam from other religions, including the acknowledged ones.
    Going out as an atheist not only open yourself to a fundies witch hunt, but also to persecution by law.

  • Steve

    It’s a muslim country (the biggest on the planet). That kind of stuff is pretty much what you’d expect

  • Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

    Mr. T, clearly.

  • TychaBrahe

    I have wondered this for a while. The masons and similar service organizations have the same policy. How do they deal with polytheists like Hindus or religions that do not have a deity, like Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or Shintoism?

  • I hope they grow stronger and don’t suffer too many growing pains. They’re brave and inspiring. I wish them every success.

    a country where you’re apparently free to choose your own religion, as long as you believe in a god.

    Sounds like all too many are trying to claim what is meant by freedom of religion here. Let’s take an example from these Indonesians and stand up to that nonsense before we have to keep meeting places of Atheist groups secret.

  • ah, i’ve spoken via facebook to one of the names in the article – karl karnadi. the group i belong to, the malaysian atheists, freethinkers and agnostics (MAFA) is a sister society to karl’s.

    islam is also enshrined within the constitution as the official religion in malaysia. others are free to practice and spread whatever religion they choose, but it’s forbidden to proselytise to muslims. syariah law is in power here to govern the muslims, so apostasy is forbidden.

    in out national principles (called the rukunegara, if you want to wiki it), the first of its 5 items is “BELIEF IN GOD”. children are forced to recite it daily in schools even if they’re non-theistic buddhists or atheists. i think it’s analogous to the pledge of allegiance.

    karl’s been trying to get malaysian atheists to be more active and visible but… most malaysians are quite fearful of retribution. even mild criticism of islam can get us locked up without trial under the sedition act which prohibits any discourse that “promotes ill-will and hostility” between races. not to mention we also have some pretty nasty blasphemy laws (we’re talking 3 years of jail-time here) but luckily, it’s rarely enforced. technically, many people (me included) should have been thrown in the slammer many times over now if they really want to make a case against what we say on our blogs and facebook pages.

  • Ysor

    Tychabrahe said

    I have wondered this for a while. The masons and similar service organizations have the same policy. How do they deal with polytheists like Hindus or religions that do not have a deity, like Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or Shintoism?

    When it comes to compulsory monotheism, it seems that the government gives exception to Hinduism. After all, it is the oldest major religion in Indonesia, and it still commands a significant following in Bali. Incidentally, this has led to followers of animism seeking shelter under its protective umbrella.

    Buddhism comes in many flavours – the predominant one in Indonesia does teach the existence of a god-equivalent, the supreme buddha (that was what I learnt in my religious classes back in mid to late 90s).

    Taoism and confucianism were given the green light not so long ago, I believe, as a gesture of increasing tolerance and recognition to the chinese community.

    There is no Shintoist in Indonesia.

  • Richard Wade

    These people have great courage. They shame me for the times I feel timid about being “out” in a public setting. I hope they prosper and stay safe.

  • you can be a pantheist, deist, or polytheist (hindu is considered as such) here, there’s a title for that, “kepercayaan pada tuhan” which means “belief of god” and it’s protected by constitution law. the down side of the two things in the article is “you cannot be unbeliever”. but most of people here are friendly, only some fanatics (moslems and christians) who look at unbelievers with agonizing eyes. cherio.

  • there’s no shintoism here, but there are similar-to-buddhist organizations here, including the japanese zen buddhism known as nichiren. buddhism here consider as having god as the supreme being, although originally there’s no such thing. indonesian buddhism is one of a kind.

    well, fyi, i’m a member of the groups mentioned within the article. but i’m not an atheist myself.

  • TLM

    Yeah! Thanks Richard! This will help! Wish I can be more open, though. Most muslim that I met doesn’t want to proselytize me (much, and for now anyway. It helps they are friends), but the classic non-sense of Communism=Atheism still entrenched, deep, here. Annoying, belief me. Not to mention the government here is extremely paranoid about communism.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    As Tychobehae mentions, the Masons have a similar policy, as do the Boy Scouts of America and the American Legion. You can worship any ‘Supreme Being’ you want, but atheists are unwelcome.