Indonesian court recognizes native religions in landmark ruling

By Tom Allard & Jessica Damiana | Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday affirmed the rights of devotees of faiths outside the country’s officially recognized religions, in a move activists welcomed as a “new chapter for religious freedom”.Against a backdrop of rising intolerance toward minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, the court said Indonesians would not be required to identify as either Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian on their national identification cards.The ruling reviewed by Reuters followed a legal challenge by followers of some of Indonesia’s indigenous faiths.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos from the Setara Institute, a group that advocates for religious harmony, said Indonesians who refused to embrace one of the regulated religions on their identity cards had limited access to education, restricted employment opportunities and were denied legal marriage.