Atheism in Indonesia

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Atheism, or Irreligion in Indonesia, is uncommon among the country's inhabitants, as there is a great stigma attached to being an atheist in Indonesia.


Islam is the predominant faith in Indonesia.[1] It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists or agnostics in Indonesia as they are not officially counted in the census of the country.[2] Many Indonesian atheists, such as those belonging to the Indonesian Atheists organization, predominantly communicate with each other solely via the Internet.[3]

The religious and ethnic conflicts of 1965 and the resultant conflicts between communities are cited broadly as a reminder of the dangers of religion, Islam in particular.[4]

Intolerance to atheists[edit]

Atheism is not readily tolerated in Indonesia, as it has no place in Islamic Sharia law—the belief in god being one of the Pillars of Islam.[5] Religious tolerance in Indonesia is limited to muted acceptance of other religions apart from Islam. There is no place for atheism.[6][7]

Atheism in Indonesia particularly affects married women: a non-religious woman does not enjoy many of the benefits enjoyed by a married, religious woman.[7]


Atheism in Indonesia is not disallowed by law, at least ostensibly. B. F. Intan has written that natural law does not require one to follow a particular religion. Atheism as he sees it, however, is used more as an example of harmony between various religions and is not used as grounds to denounce popular religion.[8] This natural law is used as grounds for the creation of a common law, which is more usually employed elsewhere as the basis for laws governing criminal activity or civil disputes.[8]

Current events and interpretations[edit]


In the past, prominent atheists have only been prosecuted under Islamic blasphemy laws, so it is unknown if atheism is actually prosecutable under secular law.[9][10][11] When declared atheist Alexander Aan wrote in February 2012 (on Facebook) that God does not exist, he was taken into custody and initially charged with blasphemy. The police claimed that they were doing this to protect him from attackers, however, no charges have been levied against his attackers. He has not prosecuted under blasphemy law, but instead was eventually charged under the country's cyber crime laws for spreading his views on the non-existence of god by using the internet.[12] This incident raised a debate about the legality of atheism versus treating it as a genuine religion.[13]

Supporting statistics[edit]

A 2010 poll by Pew Research Center showed that 30% of the population in Indonesia agree with administering the death penalty for leaving Islam.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schonhardt, Sara (2013-04-26). "For Indonesian Atheists, a Community of Support Amid Constant Fear". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  2. ^ "Commentary: Is there room for atheists in Indonesia?". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  3. ^ "The Rise of Indonesian Atheism". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  4. ^ Christopher Hitchens (2007). The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. Da Capo Press. p. 489. ISBN 978-0-306-81722-9. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Hodal, Kate (2012-05-03). "Indonesia's atheists face battle for religious freedom". London: The Guardian. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ Jan Michiel Otto (15 February 2011). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. Amsterdam University Press. p. 443. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Timothy Lindsey (26 March 2008). Indonesia, Law and Society. Federation Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-86287-692-7. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Benyamin Fleming Intan (2006). "Public Religion" and the Pancasila-Based State of Indonesia: An Ethical and Sociological Analysis. Peter Lang. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-8204-7603-2. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Raising Kids Without God: Atheist Parents in Indonesia". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  10. ^ "No Need to Believe: Indonesia’s Atheists". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  11. ^ "Commentary: Is there room for atheists in Indonesia?". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  12. ^ "Commentary: Is there room for atheists in Indonesia?". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Wed, November 7, 2012". THE JAKARTA GLOBE. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah". Retrieved 2013-09-28.