West Papua is a province located at the western tip of Papua Island which includes the Domberai Peninsula, Bomberai, Wondiwoi, to the Raja Ampat Islands. There are various religions in this area. However, how about the religious tolerance here? Could local people live side by side in harmony?
Before discussing further about it, first know how the spread of religions in this area. The majority of the population in this area embraced Christianity, followed by Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, and then Hinduism.
Not only possessing a variety of religions, West Papua is also inhabited by various tribes, ranging from indigenous tribes of the area to outside tribes, such as Javanese, Toraja, Batak, to Sundanese. Although there are many different ethnic groups, they live side by side in harmony, as well as with excellent religious tolerance.
Based on a study, the province has a higher level of religious harmony than Jakarta. In a study released by the Research and Development Center for Religious Guidance and Religious Services, Indonesian Ministry of Religion’s Research and Development Agency in 2019, the religious harmony index score is 82.1 out of 100.
It is considered as the highest score of all regions in Indonesia, followed by East Nusa Tenggara with 81.1 and Bali with a score of 80.1.
In his research, Ismail Suardi Wekke explained that Sorong belongs to a multi-religious community. The acculturation of Islamic and Christian cultures can knit social harmonization and religious harmony by mutual respect for others (Hamdani, 2017).
Why is Religious Tolerance Quite High?
Several factors influence the high level of tolerance and religious harmony in eastern Indonesia. The first is trust, and the second are norms on neighborly life.
Especially in West Papua, interactions with migrants with different beliefs have happened for a long time.
The solid cultural values and traditions passed down from generation to generation make the religious tolerance high. It can be a good lesson for other regions to increase tolerance and inter-religious harmony further.
The tolerance between tribes, groups, and religions is currently very good. One example is when Muslims build mosques, there is always help from other religious communities, especially Christians, and vice versa.
One of the Papuan religious leaders, Idrus Al Hamid, said that the meeting of several religions in Papua raises high harmony and tolerance.
How the Government Maintain the West Papua Religion Tolerance
The local government created several steps to activate a task force for religious peace to maintain harmony and tolerance between religious communities.
Later, the government will expand the task force’s presence from the provincial, district or city level to the sub-districts and villages. This task force consists of representatives of religious community organizations (ormas) in the region.
In addition, millennial groups will also participate in programs to increase national insight and awareness in building harmony, considering that the religions are very diverse. The religious and cultural festivals are held to strengthen the value of tolerance between communities.
Like in West Papua, we should increase religious tolerance in the community in other areas. Indeed, political dynamics significantly affect religious togetherness and harmony in big cities, especially in the city of Jakarta. However, this does not mean that the people cannot increase tolerance.
Religious tolerance in West Papua is a good role model for other regions in Indonesia. Although the religions in this part of Indonesia are diverse, the people there can live in peace and harmony.