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Is it Allowed to be an Atheist in Indonesia?

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Is it Allowed to be an Atheist in Indonesia?

Is it Allowed to be an Atheist in Indonesia?
Advent Kristanto Nababan, S.H. Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Mawar Saron
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Mawar Saron
Bacaan 10 Menit
Is it Allowed to be an Atheist in Indonesia?

PERTANYAAN

My friend is an atheist. Is this allowed in Indonesia, and if so, can he spread his beliefs? And what about agnosticism? Please clarify. Thank you.

DAFTAR ISI

    INTISARI JAWABAN

    Atheism is defined as not believing in the existence of God. Meanwhile, agnosticism means having no knowledge of God and believing that knowledge of God cannot be obtained.

    Although atheism contradicts the First Precept of Pancasila, there are no provisions in Indonesian legislation that strictly and explicitly regulate the prohibition of embracing atheism or agnosticism. However, spreading it has the potential to be criminally charged.

    Please read the review below for a further explanation.

    ULASAN LENGKAP

    This article is an English translation of Apakah Boleh Menjadi Ateis di Indonesia?, written by Advent Kristanto Nababan, S.H. from Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Mawar Saron and was published on Wednesday, 23 August 2023.

    This article is an update of the article entitled Is it Legal to be an Atheist in Indonesia? Which was written by Adi Condro Bawono dan Diana Kusumasari, and was first published on Tuesday, 28 February 2012.

    This article is written according to the previous Indonesian Criminal Code and Law 1/2023 on the Criminal Code, which was promulgated on 2 January 2023.

    All legal information available on Klinik hukumonline.com has been prepared for educational purposes only and is general in nature (read the complete Disclaimer). In order to obtain legal advice specific to your case, please consult with Justika Partner Consultant.

    Definition of Atheist and Atheism

    According to Helmy Hidayahtulloh in the book Ateisme dan Teisme (p. 63) the definition of atheism is as follows:

    Belajar Hukum Secara Online dari Pengajar Berkompeten Dengan Biaya TerjangkauMulai DariRp. 149.000

    The word "atheism" can be understood from its constituent words. The affix "a" means "without" or "less" and "theism" comes from the Greek term "theos" which means God. If "theism" means belief in God, then the most common understanding of the term "atheism" is a lack of belief in God. Therefore, an "atheist" is an individual who does not believe in God.

    Furthermore, according to Nurcholish Majid, atheism is basically an understanding that denies the existence of God. For atheists, what exists is the material world, and life is limited to this earthly life. Spiritual life and the realm after death are human fantasies that are not proven to be true, therefore they reject them.[1]

    As in the Official Dictionary of the Indonesian Language, the definition of atheism/ateisme is an understanding that does not recognize the existence of God. Thus, it can be understood that atheism is simply defined as not believing in the existence of God.

    People who do not believe in the existence of God are called atheists/ateis.

    Is it Allowed to be an Atheist in Indonesia?

    Pancasila as the state ideology as well as the philosophical basis of the Indonesian constitution,[2] the first principle mentions the Belief in the One and Only God (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa), which implies a belief in God, who created the universe and its contents.

    This is also affirmed by Yudi Latif in the book Negara Paripurna, which states that the strong religious shares in the foundation of Indonesian nationality made the great flow of the nation's founders not imagine a public space devoid of God. Since the 1920s, when Indonesia began to be envisioned as a shared political community, overcoming a cultural community of diverse ethnicities and religions, the idea of nationality was inseparable from Godhead (p. 67).

    Furthermore, the principle of Belief in the One and Only God is also stated in Article 29 section (1) 1945 Constitution, which reads:

    The state is based on Belief in the One and Only God.

    Based on this, the element of atheism is contrary to the principle of Belief in the One and Only God.[3]

    However, according to our research, there are no laws and regulations that explicitly prohibit or sanction an atheist.

    This means that, legally, there is no legislation that explicitly prohibits someone from embracing atheism. The legal consequence of someone who adheres to atheism is that they cannot enjoy the rights that are generally enjoyed by those who adhere to certain religions in Indonesia.

    For example, it is difficult to arrange a marriage, because according to the provisions of Article 1 section (1)  Marriage Law stipulates that marriage is lawful if it is carried out according to the laws of each religion and belief. In addition, it will also be difficult to manage population documents such as ID cards that require the inclusion of religion or belief.[4]

    Unlike the case with atheists who "only" embrace atheism, propagators of atheism in Indonesia can be subject to criminal sanctions. This is regulated in the previous Criminal Code which is still applicable at the time this article was published, as well as Law 1/2023 on the new Criminal Code, which will entry into force 3 years from the date of its promulgation[5] in 2026, as follows.

    Article 156a Criminal CodeArticle 302 Law 1/2023

    By a maximum imprisonment of five years shall be punished any person who deliberately in public gives expression to feelings or commits an act:

    1. which frincipally have the character of being at enimity with, abusing or staining a religion, adhered to in Indonesia;
    2. with the intention to prevent a person to adhere to any religion based on the belief of the allmighty God.
    1. Any person who in public incites persons with the intention that the persons have no religion or belief which is adhered to in Indonesia, shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years or a maximum criminal fine of category III, which is IDR 50 million.[6]
    2. Any person who with violence or threats of violence force someone to have no religion or belief or to convert a religion or belief which is adhered to in Indonesia, shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 4 years or a maximum criminal fine of category IV, which is IDR 200 million.[7]

    Based on Article 156a Criminal Code above, it can be understood that an atheist is prohibited from spreading atheism. Meanwhile, if someone spreads atheism by inciting or using violence or threats of violence to force others to become atheists, they can be convicted under Article 302 Law 1/2023.

    Is it Allowed to be Agnostic in Indonesia?

    According to Kamarusdiana in the book Filsafat Hukum/Philosophy of Law (p. 153) agnosticism is defined as follows:

    Agnosticism is a philosophical view that a truth value of a certain claim generally related to theology, metaphysics, the existence of God, gods and so on is unknowable with a limited human mind, because knowledge is limited and brings limitations in terms of science.

    Furthermore, Helmy Hidayatulloh (p. 77) explains that agnosticism means having no knowledge of God and believing that knowledge of God cannot be obtained. The adherents of this agnosticism are called agnostics.

    Meanwhile, according to the Official Dictionary of the Indonesian Language, agnosticism/agnostisisme is an understanding that maintains the stance that humans lack information or rational ability to make judgments about ultimate truth. Agnosticism is also defined as the belief that humans have no knowledge of God.

    Furthermore, in accordance with the Official Dictionary of the Indonesian Language, an agnostic/agnostik is a person who holds the view that ultimate truth (e.g. God) cannot be known and probably never will be known.

    Agnostic can also be defined as a person who believes that some aspects of the supernatural are forever closed to human knowledge.[8]

    Based on the above opinions, it can be understood that agnosticism is a view that the existence or non-existence of God is unknown or unknowable. Meanwhile, atheism is an understanding that does not believe in the existence of God.

    So, is agnosticism allowed in Indonesia? Referring to the above review, it can be understood that agnosticism and atheism are not expressly prohibited or sanctioned in Indonesian legislation.

    However, it is worth noting Article 156a Criminal Code which prohibits an atheist or agnostic from spreading his understanding with the aim that others do not adhere to any religion. Moreover, if the dissemination is carried out by inciting or by threatening violence or threat of violence, Article 302 Law 1/2023 prohibits this.

    Also read: Freedom of Religion and Belief as a Human Right

    Enrich your legal research with the latest bilingual legal analysis, as well as the collection of regulatory translations integrated into Hukumonline Pro, click here to learn more.

    These are the answers we can provide, we hope you will find them useful.

    Legal Basis:

    1. The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia;
    2. Indonesian Criminal Code;
    3. Law Number 1 of 1974 on Marriage as amended by Law Number 16 of 2019 on the Amendment to Law Number 1 of 1974 on Marriage;
    4. Law Number 23 of 2006 on Civil Administration as amended by Law Number 24 of 2013 on the Amendment to Law Number 23 of 2006 on Civil Administration;
    5. Law Number 12 of 2011 on the Establishment of Laws and Regulations as amended by Law Number 15 of 2019 on Amendment to Law Number 12 of 2011 on Establishments of Laws and Regulations and amended secondly by Law Number 13 of 2022 on The Second Amendment to Law Number 12 of 2011 on the Establishment of Laws and Regulations;
    6. Law Number 1 of 2023 on Criminal Code.

    Court Decision:

    The Decision of the Constitutional Court Number 97/PUU-XIV-2016.

    Reference:

    1. Helmy Hidayatulloh. Ateisme dan Teisme Modern: Studi Kritis terhadap Bertrand Russell dan Nurcholish Madjid. Tangerang Selatan: Pustakapedia, 2020;
    2. Kamarusdiana. Filsafat Hukum. Jakarta: UIN Jakarta Press, 2018;
    3. Yudi Latif. Negara Paripurna: Historisitas, Rasionalitas, dan Aktualitas. Jakarta: PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2012;
    4. Buku Ajar Mata Kuliah Wajib Umum Pendidikan Pancasila (Textbook for the Compulsory General Course on Pancasila). Directorate General of Learning and Student Affairs, Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, 2016, accessed on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at 14.20 Western Indonesian Time (zone);
    5. Ateisme (atheism), accessed on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at 14.51 Western Indonesian Time (zone);
    6. Ateis (atheist), accessed on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at 15.01 Western Indonesian Time (zone);
    7. Agnostisisme (agnosticism), accessed on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at 15.51 Western Indonesian Time (zone);
    8. Agnostik (agnostic), accessed on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at 15.30 Western Indonesian Time (zone).

    [1] Helmy Hidayatulloh. Ateisme dan Teisme Modern: Studi Kritis terhadap Bertrand Russell dan Nurcholish Madjid. Tangerang Selatan: Pustakapedia, 2020, p. 167.

    [2] Elucidation to Article 2, 2nd paragraph Law Number 12 of 2011 on the Establishment of Laws and Regulations.

    [3] Buku Ajar Mata Kuliah Wajib Umum Pendidikan Pancasila (Textbook for the Compulsory General Course on Pancasila). Directorate General of Learning and Student Affairs, Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, 2016, p. 125.

    [4] Article 64 section (1) Law Number 24 of 2013 on the Amendment to Law Number 23 of 2006 on Civil Administration jo. The Decision of the Constitutional Court Number 97/PUU-XIV-2016.

    [5] Article 624 Law Number 1 of 2023 on Criminal Code (“Law 1/2023”).

    [6] Article 79 section (1) letter c Law 1/2023.

    [7] Article 79 section (1) letter d Law 1/2023.

    [8] Helmy Hidayatulloh. Ateisme dan Teisme Modern: Studi Kritis terhadap Bertrand Russell dan Nurcholish Madjid. Tangerang Selatan: Pustakapedia, 2020, p. 78.

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