The Constitutional Court has released a decision which allows followers of indigenous faiths, which
are outside of the six recognized religions in Indonesia, to declare their faiths on their ID cards.
The move, considered a huge step forward for religious freedoms in the country, was made after a group of plaintiffs proposed a judicial review to challenge some articles in the Population Administration Law that only allowed citizens to enter one of the six recognized religions on their ID cards . The Court yesterday announced that it had struck down two articles in the law, as they were considered to be in violation of the mandate and spirit of the 1945 Constitution.
“This is not in line with the spirit of the 1945 Constitution, which explicitly ensures that every citizen is free to embrace their own religion and beliefs and to worship according to their own religion and beliefs,” Constitutional Court judge Saldi Isra said as quoted by Tempo .
The judicial review was filed by followers of four of Indonesia’s indigenous faiths namely Marapu, Paralim, Ugamo Bangsa Batak and Sapto Darmo.
A previous court decision had given people the right to leave the religion field on their IDs blank, but this would sometimes lead to discrimination from various people, including officials who are unwilling to process ID cards for those that refuse choose one of the six official religions, who would also be accused as being atheists.
One of the plaintiffs, Arnol Purba, said he joined the lawsuit after he felt his son had been discriminated against by potential employers because he decided to leave the religion field on his ID card blank. “We are pleased that our faith has been recognized by the government, and the possibilities for my child’s employment are now open,” he said.