State and Religion Continuum in Indonesia: The Trajectory of Religious Establishment and Religious Freedom in the Constitution

Author:Ratno Lukito
Position:The Faculty of Shariah and Law, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Pages:645-681
SUMMARY

For many post-colonial states, defining state identity is not a simple endeavor. In Muslim countries, secular nationalism, inherited principally from Western colonialism, has usually been in constant battle with theocratic-oriented political views derived from religious teachings. Moreover, in the case of Indonesia, the problem is not confined to the problem of how to liberate the newly... (see full summary)

 
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e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2017 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
e author thanks Prof. Mark Cammack (Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles,
California) for his useful comments and suggestions to the dra of this article,
given especially during my visit at the School in August-September 2015 under
the auspices of the Ais/Luce Foundation. Any mistakes are however solely the
responsibility of the author.
statE and rEliGion ContinUUM in
indonEsia
tHe trAjectory of religiouS eStAbliSHment And
religiouS freedom in tHe conStitution
Ratno Lukito
e Faculty of Shariah and Law, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga,
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
E-mail: ratnolukito@yahoo.com
For many post-colonial states, dening state identity is not a simple endeavor. In Mus-
lim countries, secular nationalism, inherited principally from Western colonialism, has
usually been in constant battle with theocratic-oriented political views derived from
religious teachings. Moreover, in the case of Indonesia, the problem is not conned to
the problem of how to liberate the newly independent state from the heritage of colonial
philosophy but more on how to resolve the internal contest of values among themselves.
Using historical approach, the paper tries to shed a new analytical light on the debate
between Islamists and secularists in Indonesia seen particularly on the problem of de-
ning the state and religion continuum and how it aects to the principles of religious
establishment and religious freedom. Because the debate over the continuum continues
to rage in the country, it is not possible to implement either pure secularism or pure the-
ocracy in the constitution. e medial position taken by the state has resulted in the par-
tial implementation of the principles of religious establishment and religious freedom,
despite the fact that it is implemented to satisfy the two opposing groups in the context
of the country’s changing political constellation. We might come to the understanding
that the current denition of the two principles as understood in Indonesia has basically
correlated with the dual identity the state has taken as its cherished principle in confront
to the undying contestation between Islamists and secularists.
Keywords: Law and Religion, Secularism, Islam, Minorities Rights, Constitutional
La w.
V Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law 645-81 (October 2018)
646
Lukito
“It is in this framework that we have to give the meaning of
the principle of Indonesian rule of law in dierent meaning as
rechtsstaat or (American model, Tr.) rule of law. e principles of
Indonesian rule of law should be seen in the perspective of the 1945
Constitution, namely the rule of law which places the principles
of One and Only God as the main one, and religious values which
base the dynamics of the state’s life, not the state which separates
the relationship between state and religion, neither the one which
hold the individualism nor communalism principles.1
Constitutional Court Decision No. 140/PUU-VII/2009, at 275.
As for many other post-colonial states, Indonesia faces an unending
problem upon dening state identity, which for the most part results
from the historical trajectory of colonialism. Secular nationalism in-
herited principally from Western colonialism has always been in con-
test with theocratic-oriented political views derived from religious
teachings.2 As for the latter, Islam stands out for its opposition with
secularism due to its occupying a dominant position as the majority
population of the archipelago from the time of the country’s indepen-
dence. For many Indonesians, dening the state identity is, therefore,
not only conned to the problem of how to liberate the newly inde-
pendent state from the heritage of colonial worldviews but also how to
resolve the internal contest of values among themselves.
Indeed, in a country with as large a Muslim population as Indonesia,
the problem of national identity seems even more complicated since
Islam has always been the main factor of debate. Two questions are
always present: rst, if Islamism is adopted, how can the abstract values
of political Islam be implemented into a new state organization and,
second, how can Islamic teachings be enforced in a society where
religious pluralism is a fact of everyday life? e focus of the debate
1. Tajul Muluk et al. v. Republic, No. 84/PUU-X/2012 (2012) (Indon. Const. Ct)
(examining Law No. 1/1965 on the Prevention from Abuse of and/or Desecra-
tion of Religion (Arts. 1, 2(1), 2(2), 3 and 4 (a)), Apr. 9, 2013), at 275 available
at http://www.mahkamahkonstitusi.go.id/putusan/putusansidangPutusan%20
PUU%20140_Senin%2019%2OApril%202010.pdf.
2. See generally on this issue, Javaid Rehman, Accommodating Religious Identities
in an Islamic State: International Law, Freedom of Religion and the Rights of
Religious Minorities, 7 I’ J.  M  G R 139-66 (2000).
647
State and Religion Continuum in Indonesia
Lukito
has thus moved beyond the issue of whether to side with secularism or
Islamism to the question of how to bring Islam down to earth to answer
the varied everyday problems facing the new state. is is what made
the polemic of national identity virtually irresolvable at the time of the
founding of the state and why the issue continues to haunt the on-going
problems of nation-building in Indonesia.3
Departing from the above general topic, this paper will focus on the
debate between Islamists and secularists in Indonesia on the problem
of dening the relationship between state and religion and how it
aects the principles of religious establishment and religious freedom.
e argument set forth in this paper is that because the debate over
the relationship between religion and state continues to rage in the
country, it is not possible to implement either a pure secularism or a
pure theocracy in the constitution. e medial position taken by the
state adopting a dual identity as has resulted in a partial implementation
of the principles of religious establishment and religious freedom are
implemented to satisfy the two opposing groups in the context of the
country’s changing political constellation.
Using historical perspective, this paper undertakes to analyze
the phenomenon from three angles. e rst section will discuss
the historical background to the contestation between Islamists and
secularists on the relationship between state and religion. e argument
will mainly be built from the notes of the early meetings in “BPUPKI
(Badan Penyelidik Usaha-Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia,
the Committee to Investigate Preparations for the Independence of
Indonesia) and “PPKI” (Committee for the Preparation of Indonesian
Independence (Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia) during the
pre- and early independence era of Indonesia (respectively from May
29 to June 1, 1945 and on 10-17 July 1945 for the BPUPKI meetings,
and on 18-19 August 1945 for the PPKI meetings). e second section
will proceed to analyze the debates focusing on the states denition of
religious establishment and religious freedom under the Constitution
of 1945. A number of laws and regulations will, therefore, be presented
to support the analysis. e nal section will undertake a more in-depth
analysis of the continued pattern of the state’s denition of the principles
of religious establishment and religious freedom with particular
3. On the issue of the encounter between constitution and religion in general, see,
Ran Hirschl, Comparative Constitutional Law and Religion, in C
C L 422-40 (Tom Ginsburg & Rosalind Dixon eds., 2011).

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