Atheism and Pancasila

Atheism does not violate Pancasila. All Indonesians may consciously and rationally choose their own beliefs. The country’s very foundation protects their right to do so.’

Alexander Aan, a civil servant in Dharmasraya, West Sumatra, was beaten and charged with blasphemy after writing “God does not exist” on his Facebook page.

The response has ranged from condemnation by several international organizations to support by local citizens and the Indonesian Council of Ulema. Many people have invoked the first principle of Pancasila, the state ideology, to make the argument that atheism — and Alexander — have no place in Indonesia.

But is this really the case? Has atheism been banned by Pancasila since the dawn of the Indonesian state? Since the argument is based on the text of a legal document, let’s examine this question from a legal perspective.

The first principle of Pancasila says the nation of Indonesia shall be based on the belief in the one and only God. It is usually interpreted literally. As a result, nonbelievers, and atheists in particular, are often accused of violating the nation’s philosophical foundation. Their way of thinking is seen as incompatible with the country’s fundamental “monotheistic” tenet……………….

There is another foundational passage in Pancasila that addresses religious beliefs. This one stipulates that “the belief in one and supreme God must not be forced on another person.” Read more

3 replies

  1. Pancasila; the Indonesia state ideology; is based upon religious tolerance, humanism, nationalism, democracy and social justice.

    The first few decades of Indonesian independence showed Pancasila’s promise. It was used to unify people from diverse religious, social and ethnic backgrounds. It was used to rally people against the Dutch and various rebellions in the 1950s. In last decade, unfortunately Pancasila started to lose its lustre especially in regard to religious freedom and tolerance. The rifts and divisions within aggression towards Ahmadis, Christians and Shiites has led to questions about validity of Pancasila as a state slogan and ideology!

  2. The ideology of Quaid-E-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for Pakistan and the Pancasila Ideology for Indonesia seems like similar.Both ideologies presenting a system liberal and social justice based according to real Islamic teachings ( La Ikrah Fi Din ). Unfortunately now the Theocracy ( Mullahism ) has replaced in both the countries. Although Pakistan is a champion of negative doings but Indonesia seems not learning lesson from the example of Pakistan which is near to be declared a Failed State.

  3. The support of the Ulema (so called scholars) of religious intolerance reminds me of the Hadith of the Holy Prophet to the effect:

    There will come a time upon the people when nothing will remain of Islam except its name and nothing will remain of the Quran except its inscription. Their mosques will be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance. Their divines (Ulema) will be the worst people under the sky; strife will issue from them and avert to them.

    (Mishkatul Masabih, Kitabul Ilm)

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