What is the Religion of Indonesia? Rich Tapestry of Faiths (Explained) 

What is the Religion of Indonesia

Indonesia is a country with many groups of people, and they follow various religions. There are interesting things to learn about the Indonesian people that you shouldn’t miss. Before you go, let’s talk a bit about what is the religion of Indonesia.

Indonesia is a country with many groups of people, and they follow various religions. There are interesting things to learn about the Indonesian people that you shouldn’t miss. Before you go, let’s talk a bit about what is the religion of Indonesia.

What is the Religion of Indonesia?

What is the Religion of Indonesia

Indonesia’s government has six official religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Everyone in Indonesia must follow one of these religions, and it’s on official documents like passports.

Atheism isn’t allowed and is seen as not okay in Indonesia, even though there’s no law against it. Some Indonesians who shared atheist views online were threatened and arrested for blasphemy, which can lead to prison.

Here are the percentages and numbers of people following each religion:

  • Muslim: 87.2% (207.2 million)
  • Protestant: 6.9% (16.5 million)
  • Catholic: 2.9% (6.9 million)
  • Hindu: 1.7% (4.0 million)
  • Buddhist: 0.7% (1.7 million)
  • Confucian: 0.05% (0.1 million)

Indonesians following these religions don’t always act the same way. Some Muslims focus on Indonesia mosque and rituals, while others, like cultural Muslims, rarely pray or go to the mosque.

In parts of Indonesia, there’s still animism, even though the government does not recognize it. Animism mixed with mainstream religions over time, creating local belief systems like Kejawen in Java and Kaharingan in Kalimantan.

Animists often get called Hindus on official records because it’s more flexible for including different beliefs, according to Pancasila, which says you should believe in one God.

Islam in Indonesia

The majority of Indonesia’s population follows the Islamic faith. But it’s not one big group because different parts of Indonesia have different histories and influences on their Islamic beliefs.

Even though there’s been a process of spreading Islam for many years. Indonesia still has many types of Islamic practices.

Right now, more than 207 million Muslims live in Indonesia, and most of them are Sunni Muslims. Trade was a big part of spreading Islam in Indonesia, but it wasn’t always easy. Sometimes, force was used.

Did you know Islam is the fastest growing religion in Indonesia? Yes! Indonesia has seen Islam grow faster than any other religion.

The spread of Islam in Indonesia happened in stages, with things like international trade, the rise of important Muslim rulers, and social movements playing a role.

Today, Indonesian Muslims contribute to the global ummah, connecting with believers from places as far as Iraq, sharing experiences, and enriching their understanding of Islam.

Christianity in Indonesia

Around 23 million people in Indonesia follow Christianity. It’s the second-biggest religion after Islam. There are two types: Protestantism and Catholicism, with most people following Protestantism. Christians usually live in the eastern part of Indonesia.

Sometimes, there are fights between Muslims and Christians, like the one from 1999 to 2002 in the Moluccas. Some churches also get closed. But, overall, people from both religions typically live peacefully together.

Besides the usual churches, a newer movement called the charismatic movement is getting popular in big Indonesian cities. It’s like Pentecostalism and focuses on spiritual gifts.

Hinduism in Indonesia

Hinduism has been in Indonesia the longest. Most islands lost this history, except Bali. Bali’s people still follow Balinese Hinduism. Many tourists come for Bali’s beauty and this religion.

Before Hinduism and Buddhism came, locals believed in animism. When Hinduism reached the western islands from China and India in the first century, leaders saw it as a way to gain power. They pretended to be Hindu gods and became more important.

Buddhism in Indonesia

In Indonesia, only 0.7% of people, around 1.7 million, follow Buddhism. Most Indonesian Buddhists are from the Chinese community. Some Chinese practice Taoism or Chinese folk religion, but the government counts them as Buddhists.

Buddhism and Hinduism in Indonesia have a connected history. Buddhism arrived in Southeast Asia in the second century, using the same trade routes that brought Hinduism a century earlier.

The Srivijaya empire on Sumatra was a Buddhist center in the seventh century. The Sailendra dynasty built the Borobudur temple in Central Java in the eighth century. The Majapahit empire ruled much of the Archipelago in the 15th century.

You can still find Buddhist remains from the 2nd to the 15th century in places like Sumatra and Java. But from the 16th century, Islam became the main religion in Sumatra and Java.

Confucianism in Indonesia

Some see Confucianism as a belief or philosophy, not a religion. But the Indonesian government counts it among the six official religions. Confusingly, the government’s view has changed over time.

Back when Soekarno was president, Confucianism was a state religion. Later, under Suharto, it got taken off the list. This was because the government wanted to avoid issues between native Indonesians and ethnic Chinese, who were a small part of the population but had a big economic impact.

People practicing Confucianism had to switch to Buddhism or Christianity on their IDs. In 2006, Confucianism became an official state religion again.

Confucianism came to Indonesia from China, thanks to Chinese merchants and immigrants, around the 3rd century.

FAQs About What is the Religion of Indonesia

Is Indonesia an Islamic country?

Yes, even though most people in Indonesia are Muslims, the country isn’t officially Islamic. It’s a secular state that officially acknowledges six religions.

Is atheism legal in Indonesia?

Technically, yes. But most people follow a religion, as it’s a big part of their way of life. The country’s basic philosophy, Pancasila, and some laws, like those about marriage, reflect this. Even official ID cards follow this trend.

Is Indonesia a Catholic country?

No, most Indonesians are Muslim. In 2018, only 3.12 percent were Catholic, which is about 8.3 million people. However, some areas in Indonesia have more Catholics.

Which God is Worshipped in Indonesia?

In Indonesia, Hindus worship their local god, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, and also the Trimurti gods Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. They also include elements from Animism and Mahayana Buddhism in their beliefs.”

Summing Up

Indonesia is a spiritual country. When you meet someone there, they might ask, “What is the religion of Indonesia?” People usually assume you’re Christian if you don’t say your faith.

However, the main religion of Indonesian is Islam. But, people follow different religions, and this affects the country’s politics, economy, and culture a lot.

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