Indonesia is not only rich in national resources, but it is also rich in culture. Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups, 1.350 tribes (BPS 2010), around 652 languages, and also 187 local beliefs (Ministry of Education and Culture). 

These differences that are spread from Sabang to Merauke, from Miangas to Pulau Rote, has become the identity of Indonesia which is the land of thousand cultures. More importantly, the diversity is stated in the motto of Indonesia which sounds, “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” or can be translated to “different but still one”. 

However, talking about diversity, especially about beliefs or religion, can be such a sensitive topic. Apart from the six religions that have been announced as the official religions, there are still many local beliefs that seem to be unrecognized. For years, the local beliefs in Indonesia have experienced various challenges related to status and rights as citizens. 

Baduy tribe, which have been following their belief which is Sunda Wiwitan, are not allowed to have Akta Perkawinan or marriage certificate. According to Sukirno, some Baduy people do not have a marriage certificate because of the PP No. 37 Tahun 2007 or Government Regulations number 37 in 2007 (234). 

That regulation obliges people to have a statement letter or marriage from the stakeholder of local religious beliefs that is registered at the Ministry of Education and Culture. Since Baduy people do not have any organizations or stakeholder that is registered in the Ministry, they are not allowed to proceed the marriage certificate.

As a consequence, their child can only have their mother’s name on the birth certificate and the parents will never have the status of being married. This injustice is not only experienced by the Baduy tribe, but also by Adat Karuhun Urang at Cigugur and Sedulur Sikep (Samin) at Kudus and Pati (Sukirno 234).

Moreover, in Laguboti, Toba Samosir, Parmalim followers also face difficulties in claiming their rights.  The chieftain of Parmalim Laguboti, Monang Naispospos, states that his people are not allowed to join the Indonesian National Army or to apply as government employees due to their beliefs.

While applying to both of the institution, their religion will be checked by the computer system. Since the system only recognizes the 6 legal religions, Parmalim people then could not pass the registration process of being Indonesian national army or government employee (Sukirno 235). 

These facts are irrefutable proves that our local beliefs that exist in Indonesia, that contribute in preserving our nature, experience discrimination only because of the belief. 

There are some reasons why the local beliefs, that actually had been living in Indonesia before other religions such as Christian and Islam, face many challenges and difficulties. Religious politics, that has been going since the Dutch colonialism, evidently plays a role in creating discrimination to the local beliefs.

A Dutch colonial, Snouck Hurgronje, was once created a regulation that states, “Political Islam is prohibited, Islamic piety is freed, and adat is strengthened, revitalized and institutionalized”. The regulation of revitalizing adat was then interpreted as an effort to modernize the traditional/local beliefs because those beliefs are considered animistic (qtd. in Sukirno 236).

The mistake in interpreting the local beliefs then created a global stereotype that leads to a fallacy in understanding those beliefs. For instance, the name “Baduy” is not accepted by them who follow Sunda Wiwitan belief because it is actually addressed to them as a mockery for being primitive and dependent on nature (qtd. in Hakiki 66). 

It is very unfortunate that people consider the local beliefs as an act of being primitive instead of a culture or indigenous religions that should be globally recognized.

In conclusion, the local beliefs are not only part of Indonesian culture, but they are also part of Indonesian people who have the same rights as other citizens. The fact that the local beliefs have been living in Indonesia before the foreign religions and the fact that they also contributed in gaining independence cannot be ignored with ease.

Even though they are not the majority of this country, it does not mean they are not allowed to claim their rights. Every citizen should have the same rights regardless of their background and their religion or belief. When all people are equally treated, that is when justice is truly served.