Bandung, West Java (ANTARA) - The Religious Affairs Ministry has urged preachers and religious leaders who have decided to participate in political activities in the 2024 General Elections to not exploit religion for electoral gain.

After opening the "West Java Preachers' Gathering to Prevent Radicalism and Terrorism in Indonesia" here on Wednesday, the ministry's special staff, Muhammad Nuruzzaman, said that religions should be accorded an exalted status and not be cited in political campaigns.

"For preachers, do not exploit religions for electoral gains; religion is too precious to be used as campaign material," he added.

Though the ministry does not bar preachers from participating in political activities during elections, preachers are encouraged to campaign appropriately and not exploit religious sentiments, he said.

"As a democratic country, everyone can select and endorse their preferred political parties. Preachers commonly proselytizing their religion are also allowed to endorse a political party or participate in campaigns," he explained.

Meanwhile, preachers and religious leaders who decide to remain neutral and not state their political preferences must help promote tolerance among the public, Nuruzzaman said.

Preachers must not cause polarization or divide the society over political preferences, he added.

"If (preachers) decide not to participate in campaigns, they can remain politically neutral. We can be different in politics, but our differences must not cause any issue," he stressed.

Nuruzzaman also asked preachers participating in political activities to exploit issues other than religion in their political campaigns.

"There are a lot of other means that can be used to win the 2024 elections (outside of religion) because religion belongs to God and is very holy," he remarked.

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Translator: Ajat Sudrajat, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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