by Mathias Hariyadi
2/2/11 Indonesia (AsiaNews) – Authorities exploit religion and religious communities for “personal political gain” or to benefit “their group”, they look at freedom of religion as a mere “opportunity,” considering only its “ritual aspects” and not the “personal” and intimate choice that is the basis of faith. This is the stark reminder of Msgr. Martinus Dogma Situmorang, bishop of Padang, who explains to AsiaNews the reasons behind the social commitment of the Church in Indonesia and the awareness campaign promoted for the Executive and President Yudhoyono, until now only interested in “political games”.
In recent weeks, Protestant and Catholic leaders have criticized the government’s position on religion and social policies. A meeting between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, senior business executive and representatives of the Church has not provided “satisfactory” answers, the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) and the bishop of Padang – of the Batak ethnic group – wanted to represent a “critical voice” to improve the reality of the country.
Mgr Situmorang accuses the ruling class to looks on religious freedom as an “opportunity”, seeing only the “ritual ceremonies,” neglecting the “personal” aspect. Politicians are more interested in promoting an idea of personal “morality” rather than encourage “social justice, welfare and safety of persons.” Finally, they manipulate religion and religious groups “for personal interests or those of their own groups”. The prelate explained that these behaviours show ” the misinterpretation of the key element the Constitution and our Pancasila, which guarantees religious freedom.
The prelate branded the government’s response to social problems as “sluggish” and stresses that it is “part of the problem not the solution.” Politicians, he stresses, are too busy “promoting an image of a good politics,” but deny “the real problems of society.” In reality the assessment of good governance must be based not on “ways of thinking” and proposing oneself to citizens, but “the service rendered to the population, on the efforts made to promote social well-being … of justice…of national interest that makes Indonesia a multi-cultural society. “