Indonesian Interfaith Dialogue

Interfaith dialogue in Indonesia has been experiencing developments since its rise in 1960?s. In its developments the dialogue can be categorized in three categories based on the actors: government, civil community organization and academe. This argument was articulated by CRCS research team when they researched on ideas and practices of interfaith dialogue in Indonesia. They presented their research findings in Wednesday Forum, April 5, 2009.

Interfaith dialogue in Indonesia was initiated by Mukti Ali, the Minister of Religious Affairs, in 1969. This was motivated for building dialogue in national and international level in the 1960s. In Indonesia, there was an initiative to build dialogue which was only a response to local conflicts which involved religious communities after 1965. It started from this background that emerged dialogues that had been institutionalized by the government, civil community organizations and the academe.

During the forum, the researchers presented the seven levels or situations in the dialogue. The first level is called ?dialogue of life? where people from different backgrounds share their daily experiences as ?human community? with common concerns. The second is called ?social analysis and contextual ethics? a situation where they try to understand the realities of life socially and ethically. The third level is understood as ?study of my faith resources? where people try to learn the religious traditions present in the community. The fourth level is the ?the Ultimate? where they all together join interreligious community and build a situation where they share their religious experience in order for them to be enriched. One step higher is the fifth level which is the ?interreligious theology? where they experience enrichment at the level of theology in interpretation and orientation. The sixth level is the ?dialogue of action? which is highly emphasize; here, the participants are empowered with perspectives related to issues on social and gender justice, human rights and ecology. The last level is ?intra-religious dialogue? which shows self-criticism and ?my faith is enriched and renewed? (transformed).

From the seven levels above, the researchers also found that actors too are categorized as they have different spirits with regard to dialogue. The dialogue that is organized by the government tends to ?top-down.? Dialogue is used as an instrument to overcome problems by building harmony and diplomacy. Unlike the government initiative, civil society organizations emphasize more on ?bottom-up? approach. The dialogue is not only done by interfaith organizations but also by other organizations.

The dialogue itself is also organized by civil society organizations that can be categorized: Interfaith organizations (Eg.: Interfidei [1991], ICRP [2000], eLaIeM [2000]), NGOs of religious-social-democratic studies/ advocacy (Eg.: LKiS [1993], Percik [1996], PSAP [2001], WI [2004]), Feminist movements (Eg.: Mitra Wacana [1996], Fahmina [2000], Kapal Perempuan [2000]), Religious council organizations (Eg.: PGI [1950], KWI [1955], MUI [1975]).

Meanwhile dialogue which is being organized by the academe is focused on higher education. Dialogue happens mostly among the academicians. There are some aspects on this dialogue: student body, lecturers, and curriculum/pedagogic methods.

Through this research, people could map the development and shape of the interfaith dialogues in Indonesia. The categories above could be compared to Diana L. Eck?s three interfaith dialogue arenas which are: academic, religious and public.


[The research team consists of J.B. Banawiratma (co-instructor of ?Inter-religious Dialogue? course at CRCS), Zainal Abidin Bagir (CRCS), Fatimah Husein (co-instructor of ?Inter-religious Dialogue? course), Suhadi (CRCS), Novita Rakhmawati (CRCS student), Budi Asyhari (CRCS), Ali Amin (CRCS), and Mega Hidayati (ICRS student). Visit to see their abstract]

This post is also available in: Indonesian


Leave a Reply