According to the newest Religious Affairs Ministry data, the religious harmony index is in good condition for the past five years since 2015. The region that shows the highest religious harmony index is West Papua. What makes the religious harmony index in West Papua the highest among other regions? What are the keys to religious tolerance in West Papua? Let’s find out.
Role of History and Local Wisdom
History and local wisdom play a big role in maintaining religious tolerance in West Papua.
One of the proof is when Manokwari was inaugurated as “Kota Injil” (City of Gospel) by the regional regulation on October 28th 2018. The decision was made due to its history as the first place where the gospel first entered Papua, which is on Mansinam Island. The two missionaries – Johan Gottlob Geissler from the Netherlands and Carl Willem Otto from Germany – set foot on Mansinam Island on February 5th 1855. They got full support from Sultan Tidore, who’s a Muslim.
Aside from the indigenous, Fakfak regency in West Papua is also inhabited by various ethnic groups that had existed long before Indonesia was formed. According to Saidin Ernas, the people from Maluku and Arabia set foot in Fakfak in the 17th century through trade and the mission of spreading religion.
The Bugis, Makassarese, and Butonese came when the Indonesian government has been formed. They settled in Fakfak during the process of integration between Papua and Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Javanese arrived in Fakfak as transmigrants in 1996. Meeting people from different religions and cultures creates mutual respect and respect in every aspect of life in Fakfak.
The principle of family religion has been passed from generation to generation. Therefore, any religion in West Papua is hoped to keep the value of the wisdom “Satu tungku tiga batu”. Tungku (fireplace) is a symbol of life, while tiga batu (three stones) means “kau, saya, dan dia” (you, me, and him/her). It means that despite the differences in religion, ethnicity, and social status, the West Papuans are in one brotherhood
Steps Taken to Maintain Religious Tolerance
The Government of West Papua understands that religious tolerance is the key to peace that leads to the acceleration of socio-economic and infrastructure development in Papua. Therefore, the governor takes active participation by sounding religious tolerance in West Papua on many occasions.
The government keeps reminding the people of West Papua not to disrespect or violate other religious teachings. To do so, it takes active and concrete contribution from each people of Papua. One of the concrete actions is by activating a special task force that’s assigned to maintain religious harmony in the region. The task force consists of the representatives of religious community organizations in this region.
Aside from that, the regional government, through Biro Bina Mental (Mental Development Bureau), intensifies the programs that lift the spirit of nationalism and patriotism among the youth and the millennials.
The bureau encourages participation from each person from a particular religion to support the implementation and celebration of important commemoration of another religion. For example, encouraging participation from the Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus in the celebration of Pekabaran Injil and Christmas to guard the whole process of celebration. Not only for Christian celebration, but it also applies to big days of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.
Festival Budaya Agama (Religious Culture Festival) is also put on the regional agenda to help people get to know each other’s religion better.
Dialogue in Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) is also encouraged to promote peace and tolerance, and all religious communities in the region are invited to maintain the tradition of mutual trust in realizing a pluralist Indonesia and a moral Indonesia.
Not only encouraging the people of West Papua to practice religious tolerance, but the governor also becomes the role model as well. For example, the governor gives full support for the inauguration of MUI headquarter in the region as a form of implementation of the vision and mission of the Regional Government.
The governor hopes that all Muslim scholars and clerics in West Papua will be committed to enhancing the role and function of MUI as a socio-religious institution that always provides support to the Regional Government to create a safe, prosperous and dignified West Papua.
Manokwari the City of Gospel
Manokwari was inaugurated as “Kota Injil” (City of Gospel) by the regional regulation on October 28th 2018. The decision was made due to its history as the first place where the gospel first entered Papua, which is on Mansinam Island. The two missionaries – Johan Gottlob Geissler from the Netherlands and Carl Willem Otto from Germany – set foot on Mansinam Island on February 5th 1855.
Despite being called the City of Gospel, it doesn’t mean that the government puts other religions aside. In the same year of the inauguration, the deputy regent who’s a Muslim, and the regent who’s a Christian, dispatched seven mosque administrators for the hajj pilgrimage with ONH Plus budget. Meanwhile, the Catholics and Christians were dispatched to Jerusalem, Israel, and the Vatican; the Hindus were dispatched to India.
There are many takeaways that we can get from religious tolerance in West Papua. Let’s focus more on brotherhood and not let diversity set us apart.