Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister clarifies his stance on the Bahai Faith
Indonesia’s religious affairs Minister, Lukman Saifuddin, has said that the Indonesian government would not add the Bahai Faith to the list of recognized religions, as Bahai media have reported. There are still six recognized religious identities in Indonesia, he said. They are Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Neither Taoism nor the Bahai Faith would be added.
The Minister’s previous instruction to the Home Affairs Ministry, that the Bahai Faith is a religion protected by articles 28E and 29 in the Constitution, was an administrative measure with regard to identity cards and other necessary documentation.
Indonesia’s Constitution does not recognize or establish any religion. However, the Prevention of Desecration Act identifies six religions as those historically embraced by the people of Indonesia. Departments of the Ministry of Religious Affairs deal with the state’s relations with these six communities, and they may obtain funding (although the situation in relation to the Confucian community is somewhat more complicated). However the Act goes on to say that other religions, such as Judaism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism and Taoism, have full protection under Article 29. The Minister’s statement about the Bahai Faith was not announcing an intention to add it to the six specifically identified religions. Rather, it meant that the Bahai Faith should not be treated as a sect of another religion, and is entitled to the same protection as the groups mentioned in Article 29.