Proselytizing and the Limits of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Asia

Volume 4 of the series ARI - Springer Asia Series pp 17-40


Proselytization, Religious Diversity and the State in Indonesia: The Offense of Deceiving a Child to Change Religion

  • Melissa CrouchAffiliated withLaw Faculty, National University of Singapore Email author 

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Since independence in 1945, the Indonesian government has attempted to regulate and control religious diversity. In 1946, a Ministry of Religion was established, and by 1965, a Presidential Decision was passed that is widely understood to have officially sanctioned six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, although a diverse range of religions and beliefs outside these are permitted to exist. Of these six religions, it is Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism that are recognized in Indonesia as “missionary” religions that aim to proselytize. The Ministry of Religion has the role of overseeing and regulating the religious affairs of these religions, including issuing guidelines or limits on proselytization. This chapter will argue, however, that in reality the regulations that have been created favor the religious majority. These regulations largely target and disadvantage Christians as members of the only other recognized religion in Indonesia, aside from Islam, that is considered to be a “missionary” or “proselytizing” religion.