Religious Identity: Demand from the Bottom to Overcome the Politization of Religion in Indonesia

Rofiq Rofiq


This research aims to explore the development of democracy in Indonesia. For two decades, the journey of democracy in Indonesia has faced many obstacles. The obstacle that receives the most attention is the issue of religious identity. Large sums of money were disbursed by the Indonesian government to block the storm of religious politicization, so that it does not spread to the villages. This study was conducted using a qualitative research method with a case study approach and found an incident of religious politicization that negatively affected village democracy which was initially in a good situation and condition. In the village head election, despite the tight competition, the candidates used issues of religious sentiment to gain political support from followers of the same religion. A candidate who was Muslim urged the Muslim voters to vote for him because he had the same religion as them. They thought that this encouragement would be successful, as the majority of the village population were Muslims, and it would be easy to influence them to elect a Muslim leader. However, another candidate who was Christian did not use the method based on Christian sentiments because he felt that they were in the minority. This study found that other forms of religious politicization failed to gain the support of the majority population. The election of a Javanese Christian reverend undermined the politicization of religion itself. Programmatic politics was chosen by the people based on how they voted. Working earnestly accompanied by the sincerity and honesty of the candidate was the determining factor in winning the grassroots vote. This study presents the results of in-depth research into the election of a village head from different religious communities. A Christian reverend was elected as the village head for two periods with the support of the majority of the Muslim population.

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