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ICC News: The presence of intolerant Islamists and jihadists in some areas of Indonesia is not the only obstacle that the Christian church there faces – religious liberty in general is in ambivalent condition within the country. Indonesia is commonly considered more pluralistic than perhaps any other majority-Islamic country, but the fact is that the country’s laws go directly against the concept by establishing “recognized religions” and inevitably discriminating against any who hold to different beliefs, most frequently indigenous ones. This persecution of Sapta Darma and other Indonesian religious minorities goes directly against the idea of freedom that God had intended for all mankind to enjoy in deciding whether or not to pursue Him. 

8/9/2016 Jakarta, Indonesia (UCA News) – Dian Jennie Cahyawati, a follower of the traditional Javanese spiritual movement Sapta Darma, almost cried when she recalled the psychological burden that thousands of children from her community carry.

“They feel stressed when they have to adopt one of the six recognised religions and put its teachings into practice in their schools,” she said.

Cahyawati regularly offers a counseling program to elementary and junior high school children from her community in East Java province. Six months ago, she had a heart-to-heart talk with them.

“I realize how sad they are. In their schools, they are often bullied for worshiping an unknown god. Worse, their teachers force them to pray according to a religion which isn’t their belief,” she added.

Many community members are unwilling to leave the religion column on their identity cards blank even though Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo announced two years ago that citizens not adhering to one of the six recognised religions — Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism — shouldn’t be forced to list their traditional beliefs or indigenous faiths on their cards.

“There will be consequences, particularly for civil servants. They think that by leaving the religion column on their identity cards blank their careers will be hampered,” Cahyawati continued.

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