Year 2017 is a good year for Indonesian, especially for the members of the Aliran Kepercayaan (Beliefs in Monotheism without subscribing to any religions in Indonesia). The Constitutional Court’s decision No 97/PUU-XIV/2016 (‘Putusan MK’), the word “religion” (agama) in a citizen’s data also meant “belief” (kepercayaan).’ We give high appreciation to the Constitutional Court for this decision which means the state protect the right of the members of the Aliran Kepercayaan in this country. The petition was submitted by some members of the Aliran Kepercayaan.
RELIGION ≠ BELIEF
With this MK’s Decision, it doesn’t mean “religion” and “belief” has the same connotation. In their considerations, MK realised that “religion” and belief” are two different entities yet the state constitutional has a duty to protect every citizen without exception to devout and to worship according to their religion and belief.
The debate about the meaning of “religion” and “belief” is not a new thing. It has started since the conception of the Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution . Since the beginning many parties suggested to delete the word “belief” in the formation of Article 29, but the other half rejected the idea and insisted to retain the word “belief” with the consideration: The State has a duty to “protect every citizen without exception.”
Religion can be defined as, “teachings, a system that regulate the life of faith (belief) and worship to the Almighty God as well as all the norms that relate to the human-to-human relationships and human-to-creation relationships  Yet “belief” is the term refers to the religiosity in Indonesia that do not belong to any of the five official religions (according to the Penpres 1/PNPS 1965 mentioned 6 (six) religions in Indonesia).
THE STATE NEVER ‘OFFICIATED’ RELIGION
It’s interesting if we understand the word “Belief” at the above, which says “Belief” is a kind of religious system apart from the “five official religions” in Indonesia. The question is, ‘when did the state actually officiated these religions?’ According to Penpres 1/PNPS 1965, Indonesia does not have any regulations that officiate religions. The terms ‘official religions’ came from the Explanation of Article 1 and PNPS No 1/ 1965 about “The Prevention of the Misuse And/or Blasphemy of Religion, said:
“… the Religions that were accepted by the people of Indonesia are Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hinduism, and Khong Cu (it has been updated to Kong Hu Cu, Confucius). This can be supported by the progress of the history of the religions in Indonesia.”
Because these 6 religions are the religions mostly believed by almost all people in Indonesia, therefore unless one is supported by Article 29 (2) of the Constitution, they will receive the supports and protection as mentioned in this Article.”
We can see clearly in the explanation of Article 1 Penpres 1/PNPS 1965; this regulation did not officiate or legalised these religions. It only explained that these are the religions believed by the majority of the people in Indonesia. In other part of the explanation also stated about other ‘religion’ or ‘belief’ which also have the right to be protected by the state, as written:
“This does not mean that the other religions, such as Judaism, Zoroism, Shinto, Taoism are banned in Indonesia. They also have the full guarantee like what has been given by Article 29 (2) and they can remain as they are, as long as they do not violate any rules or regulations stated in this law and other laws.
This explanation does not clearly mention about ‘belief’, but looking at the context, the state has a constitutional duty to respect, to protect, and to fulfil the constitutional rights of every citizen including the right to believe and to observe their belief or religion.
POST MK’S DECISION
As a pluralistic country by nature with the diversity in religions and belief in God, Indonesians need to have a clear understanding so they will not justify certain religion / belief based on their own opinions or the public opinion. After the MK’s decision, it was the right time to educate the society that the State of Indonesia respects differences and strongly accused all the attitudes and acts to discriminate other societies which is different from them.
Apart from the explanation at the above, after the MK’s Decision, we need to pay closer attentions to the ‘side effects’ of this decision:
- The Ministry of Religious Affairs needs to include in their job description: protection and guidance for the members of the Aliran Kepercayaan. For this, the Ministry needs to form a special General Directorate for Guiding the Societies (Dirjen Bimas) to care for Aliran Kepercayaan so their members will have sufficient attention and support from the state.
- Education Institute, especially under the Ministry of Education and Culture need to modify their curriculum customised to the children of the Aliran Kepercayaan, so they can observe their belief not only within their families but also receive sufficient education from the state through schools. There will be some changes in the administration for these children. The schools need to pay attention to the different needs of children from the “five religions” and the “Aliran Kepercayaan.”
- The Local Government (Pemda) needs to pay attention to the facilities for Aliran Kepercayaan’s rituals / activities, the availability of the worship places. They need to provide building permit. The change should not be only in administrative data, but also to facilitate the Aliran Kepercayaan society to acquire their worship places. This is part of the freedom to worship ensured by the 1945 Constitution, even though they may not feel the need for worship places yet.
These are some of the concerns that require the government’s attention after the MK’s Decision so that this Decision is not just serving as a pacifier for the community of the Aliran Kepercayaan. But will become a concrete hope as part of the fulfilment of their constitutional rights in Indonesia.
 The Complete Script of the Change of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia; Chapter VIII about Residents and Citizens, Human Rights and Religions, pp.255 – 378.
Yonatan Iskandar Chandra (Leimena Institute’s Researcher).