According to Wikipedia, Indonesian identity card includes religion of the person:

The card requires identification with one of the six officially recognised religions in Indonesia: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism

I am wondering why only these six ones.

Example: the main Christian religions within Indonesia are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, but there is also a Christian group that belongs to Indonesia Orthodox Church. However, Orthodox is missing from the list.

Question: Why does Indonesian identity card religion include only 6 religions?

  • 2
    You could broaden your question to address a more general case; why one of these six and not any other?
    – Communisty
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 13:44
  • @Communisty - good point. I have edited the question to reflect that.
    – Alexei
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:03
  • 1
    Related: Why list religion on an ID card?
    – user11249
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


The reason for six religions seems to be related to Indonesian blasphemy laws, in particular the 1965 Presidential Decree of Blasphemy and the later clarification which named those six religions as the religions of Indonesia.

1965 Presidential Decree of Blasphemy: I could not find the original full text of this decree, however it seems to be cited in multiple places and this site offers a paper containing excepts from it. Assuming that these excerpts are genuine, the following is the first article of the decree:

Every person is forbidden to intentionally tell, suggest or ask for supports in public to interpret the teachings of the religions, which exist in Indonesia or to perform religious practices similar to those religions, which deviate the mainstream teachings and practices of the religions.

Though this translation seems a bit odd, you can see the underlying source of why certain religions are recognized. In particular, "religions, which exist in Indonesia" are the only valid religions, and practicing similar religions but "which deviate the mainstream teachings and practices of the religions" is not allowed.

Why those six: According to the linked paper above, the 1965 decree was later clarified. I could not find the clarification(the paper has a poorly written bibiliography), however the paper claims the following:

...the phrase “religions which exist in Indonesia” refers to Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucius. It further explains that “the admission of these six religions can be proven by the history of religions in Indonesia because they are followed by most of the citizens throughout Indonesian archipelago. Therefore, the decree 1965 is applicable for these religions. However, it does not mean that the other religions, such as Judaism, Shinto, and Taoism are not allowed to exist in Indonesia.

(In the above, 'Christianity' seems to be synonymous with 'Protestantism')

Essentially, the reason those six religions are the officially recognized religions is due to the fact that, in 1965 at least, those religions represented the majority of Indonesians. Others religions, that aren't considered 'blasphemy', were simply not considered large at the time nor a part of the "history of religions in Indonesia".

Why not more: There are laws against publicly expressing hatred of or disgracing the main religions in Indonesia, and this apparently is taken to also include 'deviations' from the main religions. This likely makes expanding the list of officially recognized religions difficult, as more religions would require expanded interpretation of what 'deviations' from the religions actually include. As of right now, it seems like blasphemy laws do not cover 'unofficial' religions like Judaism or Orthodox, and adding these religions would likely cause conflict.


This was no longer true even when the question was originally posted in 2018.

In 1965, the government passed a blasphemy law that recognized only these 6 religions. On the identity card (KTP), under religion (agama), one was required to list either one of these 6 religions or "-" (blank).

This requirement was effectively repealed by the Constitutional Court ruling of 7 Nov 2017 (PDF: Indonesian, English).

Library of Congress report (2017):

The Law had required that followers of religions other than the major faiths leave the line for religion blank on their national ID cards. The Court decision came as a result of the challenge to the Law filed by four people who follow indigenous religions, whose argument was that the Law violated the ideal of equality before the law. ...

Justice Saldi Isra said that the disputed articles of the Law on Population Administration had created trouble for followers of faiths other than the major six, including problems in obtaining e-ID and family registration cards, marriage registration, and access to services provided by the civil administrative offices. ... Saldi added that now followers of native faiths should, when filing for family registration and e-ID cards, indicate that they are native faith followers (penghayat kepercayaan) and that they do not need to add other details. ...

Indonesians not identified with one of the major religions faced limits in education and employment, as well as marriage registration. ...

the ruling would also apply to followers of Baha’i and Judaism, faiths that are not indigenous to Indonesia but are not among the six religions that are formally recognized.

Other reports: Reuters, VOA.

(Note that in practice, one's ability to get a religion other than the old official six listed on one's ID card may be limited. The old law was in place for over 50 years while the new ruling is less than 10 years old. Officials who process applications may still be rejecting applications of those bold enough to put down say Judaism or atheism under religion.)

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