Delegates included religious leaders, scholars, students and interfaith activists from the United States, Indonesia, and the region.
The International Religious Freedom Report, the annual publication of the U.S. State Department, noted that the Indonesian government hosted the first Indonesia-U.S. Interfaith Dialogue in January, 2010, under the title “Building Collaborative Communities: Enhancing Cooperation Among People of Different Faiths.” Delegates included religious leaders, scholars, students and interfaith activists from the United States, Indonesia, and the region. The event encouraged interfaith action in addressing community needs.
The Constitution of Indonesia provides for freedom of religion, and accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief.” The International Religious Freedom Report cited the Indonesian government as generally respectful of religious freedom for the six officially recognized religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. However, the Report goes on to note that there are many ongoing restrictions, particularly on religions not sanctioned by the government, and sects of the recognized religions that are considered deviant.
Non-governmental organizations that monitor religious freedom violations in Indonesia recorded over 200 incidents of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice during the reporting period from July 1st, 2009 to June 30th, 2010. Some hard-line Muslim groups used violence and intimidation to close at least 28 licensed and unlicensed churches. Several buildings under construction were halted either because protesters objected to building more churches or there were issues with construction permits. Several churches were burned. Members of radical groups also attacked and burned a mosque in Central Java, and a Hindu temple. Only a few perpetrators of these and past abuses have been prosecuted.
The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the Indonesian government and civil society leaders as part of its overall policy to promote human rights throughout the world.
"With this report, we do not intend to act as a judge of other countries or hold ourselves out as a perfect example, but the United States cares about religious freedom," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "We want to see religious freedom available universally. And we want to advocate for the brave men and women who around the world persist in practicing their beliefs in the face of hostility and violence."