Surakarta, Central Java (ANTARA) - Greater comprehension among local officials is needed to enhance the inclusion of religious identity of penghayat kepercayaan, or holders of beliefs, in their personal identification (ID) cards, the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry stated.

Penghayat kepercayaan is an umbrella term referring to residents professing traditional and native faiths outside the six recognized religions in Indonesia.

"There are indeed challenges on its implementation, particularly as not all apparatus at the sub-district level understand (about the regulation)," Hilmar Farid, the ministry's director general of culture, stated here on Wednesday.

Farid pointed out that several local authorities were unable to understand that the Constitutional Court (MK) Decision No.97/PUU-XIV/2016 has allowed penghayat kepercayaan to state their faith on the ID card or Family Registration as "Belief in the Almighty God."

Before the MK decision, their only alternatives were to leave the religion section blank or select one of the six recognized religions in Indonesia.

However, due to uneven comprehension, several local officials were hesitant to include the new classification or even questioned its legality when penghayat kepercayaan asked to have their religion status changed to their appropriate status, Farid pointed out.

"The comprehension of the prevailing regulation is uneven. The officials even questioned whether it is allowed. If their direct superior does not affirm it to them, (they often refuse to record the change), which hinders the process," he explained.

To address the issue, he affirmed that the ministry will continue to disseminate information to local officials until the sub-district level as well as the general public to ensure greater acceptance of penghayat kepercayaan.

"Everything needs process, and we will employ the soft approach where we will pursue (social) acceptance because recognition without acceptance means nothing," Farid affirmed.

Nevertheless, he said, no public members oppose the legal emancipation for holders of traditional faiths so far.

"This is a constitutional matter. It is not our innovation because MK has decided on this matter, and we are emphasizing their constitutional rights," he remarked.

Related news: MUI opposes plan to leave religion column on ID`s blank

Related news: NU against allowing ID`s religion column left empty

Translator: Astrid FH, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Copyright © ANTARA 2023