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Indonesian Christian politician: remove religion from national ID cards

Catholic World News - January 06, 2014

A prominent Christian politician in Indonesia has called for the removal of religion from national identification cards, according to a Jakarta Globe report.

All Indonesians are required to identify themselves as adherents of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism. The nation of 251 million is 86% Muslim, 6% Protestant, 3% Catholic, and 2% Hindu.

Lieutenant Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of Jakarta, the nation’s capital, said that “the practice discriminates against citizens who do not participate in state-sanctioned religions, but are forced to declare one against their beliefs in order to gain an ID card,” according to a Jakarta Globe paraphrase of his remarks.

Khabar Southeast Asia, a website of the US military’s Pacific Command, reported that Purnama called for the addition of a seventh option (“other”) on the ID card, rather than for the removal of religion.

In its reporting, the US Pacific Command’s website changed the names of the six official religions – which various reference works, as well as the Indonesian embassy in the US, list as Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism – to “Islam, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Confucianism,” with the implication that “Roman Catholicism” is distinct from “Christianity.”

An official of Nahdlatul Ulama, a powerful Sunni Muslim organization, opposed Purnama’s proposal, according to the website.

“By knowing somebody's religion, we can be mindful of being tolerant,” said Tubagus Robbyansyah.

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