Indonesian People of Chinese Descent - Culture - Religion


See also: Religion in Indonesia
Distribution of religious affiliation, 2000
Muslims 5.41%
Christians 35.49%
Buddhists 53.82%
Hindus 1.77%
Others 3.91%
Chinese Indonesian population = 2,411,503

There is little scholarly work devoted to the religious life Chinese Indonesians. The 1977 French book Les Chinois de Jakarta: Temples et V́ie Collective ("The Chinese of Jakarta: Temples and Collective Life") is the only major study to assess ethnic Chinese religious life in Indonesia. The Ministry of Religious Affairs grants official status to six religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. A 2006 civil registration law does not allow Indonesians to identify themselves as a member of any other religion on their identity cards.

According to the 2000 census data, almost 90 percent of Chinese Indonesians were Buddhist or Christian (Catholic and Protestant). Conversion from the "Chinese religion" to Christianity often occurs in the younger generations, and it is not uncommon to find Christian children whose their parents adhere to their traditional religion. The first wave of conversions occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, in response to intolerance against Chinese culture, and the number of ethnic Chinese Catholics during this period quadrupled. The second wave followed after the government withdrew Confucianism's status as a recognized religion in the 1970s. Roderick Brazier, assistant country representative in Indonesia for the Asia Foundation, reported in 2006 that 70 percent of the ethnic Chinese population was Christian, and that there was active proselytism from international churches. Demographer Aris Ananta reported in 2008 that "anecdotal evidence suggests that more Buddhist Chinese have become Christians as they increased their standards of education".

In a country where nearly 90 percent of the population are Muslims, the ethnic Chinese Muslims form a small minority of the ethnic Chinese population. The 2000 census counted 5.41 percent of Chinese Indonesians were followers of Islam. Associations such as the Organization of Chinese Muslims of Indonesia (Persatuan Islam Tionghoa Indonesia, PITI) had been in existence in the late 19th century. PITI was re-established in 1963 as a modern organization, but occasionally experienced periods of inactivity. Confucians were included in the category of other religions in 2000 and accounted for 3.91 percent of the Chinese Indonesian population. The Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (Majelis Tinggi Agama Khonghucu Indonesia, MATAKIN) estimated that 95 percent of Confucians are ethnic Chinese; most of the remaining 5 percent are ethnic Javanese converts. Although the government has restored Confucianism's status as a recognized religion, many local authorities do not abide by it and have refused to allow ethnic Chinese from listing it as a religion on their identity cards. Local officials remained largely unaware that the civil registration law legally allowed citizens to leave the religion section on their identity cards blank.

Read more about this topic:  Indonesian People Of Chinese Descent, Culture

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