Living together in a religious plural society: Indonesian teachers' and student's perceptions on citizenship, identity & religious tolerance
This study investigates Indonesian secondary school teachers’ and students’ perceptions of citizenship, religion and religious tolerance. It explores how participants negotiate their citizenship and religious identities, and looks at how religious tolerance is understood and defined. The study involves religious education and citizenship teachers (n=8) and students (n=20) from three different schools in Jakarta, Indonesia. The schools were purposely selected to represent a range of philosophical approaches to religion and included a Madrasah, a private school and a public school. This study discovered that both teachers and students intertwined their religious and citizenship identities to produce a form of ‘religious citizenship’. The study also found that both teachers and students generally saw religious tolerance as a necessity to manage inter-religious relations. Many of the strategies teachers employed, which were also supported by curriculum documents, overlooked the complexity of inter-religious identities and in particular, the equality of minority religious groups. Most teachers perceived religious tolerance through an exclusivist view whereby religious tolerance was limited to social tolerance, while many student participants provided more progressive and inclusive definitions of religious tolerance that often reflected their lived experiences of engaging in inter-religious relations. In conclusion, the study argues that both teachers and students constantly negotiate their citizenship and religious identities in order to find ways to live together in a religiously plural society such as Indonesia. While students and teachers in this study agreed that finding ways to promote and sustain inter-religious harmony in Indonesia was a high priority, many challenges relating to the teaching and practice of religious tolerance in Indonesia still remain.