Indonesia is a country with various ethnicity, cultures, languages, and religions or beliefs. As you might know, there are only six major religions that are officially recognized in Indonesia, which are Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. But it also needs to be understood that Indonesia is home to countless other local beliefs and religions for which they have not recognized yet.

Local religions are believed to be the religions of Indonesian ancestors whose origins cannot be traced with certainty. However, many people think that those religions arise because some groups have the same view of a thing or place and consider it sacred (Sirait et al. 27).

There are not many local followers in Indonesia, but we can still see how they carry out religious activities. For example, you can go to Seram Island to see how Nauru's faith developed in the Manusela and Nuaulu tribes (Muttaqien et al. 89).

Until now, Indonesian people still consider the religious background to be a crucial thing. Discrimination continues to occur to adherents of local religions and generally happened as non-physical discrimination. These adherents are often seen as dissident and perform dark rituals.

Quoting from the UGM CRCS, "a local religious follower understands land (adat) as another person with whom he can relate and exist so that losing land means taking an important part of its existence" ("Esoterisme Islam").

In other words, they guarded the customs of their ethnicity because they valued their ancestors. They try to preserve their origins, but many people see it from another perspective. These perspectives are what make local religions backtracked and unable to develop.

The government also discriminates against adherents of local religions. According to a study by Hasse et al., when the government conducts state regulations of religion, it includes a form of discrimination that will kill local beliefs even though they are a cultural heritage (189). In my opinion, the government has not fully fulfilled these people's rights by applied those regulations. They need to review the policies to make all local beliefs have room and not backtrack.

Let's take a little look at a case involving local beliefs. Several years ago, local religions faced difficulties due to the religious column in several important documents, such as the National Identity Card (KTP) and the Family Card (KK). It happened because of the decision of the Constitutional Court (MK), which regulated in article 61 Paragraph (1) and (2), as well as Article 64 paragraph (1) and (5) Law No. 23 of 2006 concerning Population Administration ("Ada 187 Kelompok").

The blanks in the religious column on those important letters are marked with a dash. They always find it hard to take care of administrative matters for school, work, marriage, and others. For example, many of them had to claim to be adherents of one of the six major religions in order to simplify it.

It all happens because many people still do not accept that local religions exist. Honestly, I think that these adherents are asking for government confession not to recognize their religion as the official religion, but to get their rights instead. They hope that they can maintain all their administrations legally, without troubles.

In 2017, the government finally recognized several religious groups as Other Beliefs according to the MK decision. This decision is regulated in Article 61 Paragraphs (1) and (2) and Article 64 Paragraphs (1) and (5) Law Number 23 the Year 2006 concerning Population Administration junction Law Number 24 the Year 2013 concerning the Population Administration Law.

According to National Tempo, the Constitutional Court stated that the word 'religion' in Article 61 Paragraph (1) and Article 64 Paragraph (1) of the Population Administration Law must cover followers of other beliefs ("Ada 187 Kelompok"). It makes all followers of local religions can get their rights as Indonesian citizens according to their wishes so far. Unfortunately, however, the government has only implemented half of the decision so far ("Esoterisme Islam").

After looking at some of the information above, a question arises, should all local religions become official religions? After I read several articles on the internet, many people think that local beliefs are a cultural heritage. However, they feel that these local religions do not need to be made official religions and are sufficiently recognized to exist in Indonesia (Sirait et al. 27).

I also thought the same thing. Despite being part of Indonesian culture, those religions need to be recognized by the law and the government. It is hoped that they will not have difficulty accessing the existing things and facilities. If we want to officially recognize local religions, we need to look and consider many aspects. I think it is quite hard to make it come true.


  • Fachrudin, Azis Anwar. “Esoterisme Islam, Agama-Agama Lokal, Dan Islam Jawa.” CRCS UGM, 19 May 2016, Accessed 2 December 2020.
  • Gatra, Sandro. “Ada 187 Kelompok Penghayat Kepercayaan Yang Terdaftar Di Pemerintah Halaman All.”, 9 Nov. 2017, Accessed 3 December 2020.
  • J., Hasse, et al. "Diskriminasi Negara terhadap Agama di Indonesia." Kawistara, vol. 1, no. 2, Aug. 2011, pp. 180 - 190. Accessed 2 December 2020.
  • Muttaqien, Ahmad. "Spiritualiatas Agama Lokal (Studi Ajaran Sunda Wiwitan aliran Madrais di Cigugur Kuningan Jawabarat)." Al-Adyan, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan-June 2013, pp. 89-102. Accessed 1 December 2020.
  • Sirait, Arbi Mulya, et al. "Posisi dan Reposisi Kepercayaan Lokal di Indonesia." Kuriositas, vol. 1, June 2015, pp. 25-37. Accessed 1 December 2020.
  • “Traditional Indonesian Beliefs in a Modern Indonesian Context: Continuity and Controversy.” BASIS, 6 Jan. 2019, Accessed 1 December 2020.