Indonesian Youth Committed to Be a Peaceful Nation on Its Plurality

Camp participants clean a mosque. Photo: Rev. Bintahan Harianja/HKBP
Camp participants cleaning a mosque. As part of the meeting, youth were engaged in volunteer work at different houses of faith. Photo: Rev. Bintahan Harianja/HKBP

By Fernando Sihotang

Indonesian young people once again have been committed to promoting a self-identity as being a peaceful nation in its plurality. Pluralism has been lived in the nation since far before the national independence in 1945 from colonialism.

For the first time religious leaders and organisations convened and found a way to promoting interreligious and peaceful initiative through a National Youth Camp (Kemah Pemuda Kebangsaan) consisting of young people from different faith groups, ethnicities and areas of living.

The National Camp, hosted by HKBP (Protestant Christian Batak Church) on 21 – 23 March 2014 in Pematang Siantar, was attended by about 1700 young people from different churches, the Youth Movement of Anshor, the Youth of Muhammadyah, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucian and Al-Wasliyah faith.

Religious leaders from Nahdatul Ulama, HKBP and Muhammadyah as well as some National Ministers and State officials came and joined during the opening ceremony.

Young people sat and learnt together to find a true understanding of their differences, but at the same time mutual aim in achieving justice.

“We learnt the meaning of being different from our togetherness since the beginning up to the end of the gathering”, said Pimpinan Sijabat who joined a group for painting a mosque with other Muslim youths. As part of the meeting, youth did volunteer work on different houses of faith.

A Covenant to Make the Initiative Meaningful

The National Youth Camp was expected to be more than just an official confirmation that pluralism works very well in Indonesia. “This initiative is to build inter-faith dialogue and good relationships. More importantly, it promotes a way for people to coexist next one to another”, stated Bishop of HKBP Rev. Willem TP Simarmata.

Young people, along with their commitment and understanding of the differences, declared to:

uphold and promote pluralism and respect freedom of religion or belief for all; reject all forms of corruption; protect the environment; reject all forms of human trafficking; and combat drug abuse.”

Religious groups also signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the National Youth Camp will be continued on a rotation basis and in a sustainable way.

This initiative brought religious leaders to commit in engaging their respective members to work on pluralism and for peaceful coexistence.

Ideological Challenge not Pluralism, But Injustices

During the camp, young people of different groups of faith were addressing the roles of young people within their contexts in society.

Issues emerging in Indonesia such as corruption, environmental destruction and human trafficking brought participants to understand that these problems are not only the responsibility of one religious group, but of humankind regardless of religion or belief.

“Our challenge today is not being plural, but how we are committed ourselves to say no to any forms of injustice”, said Mahfud MD former head of the Constitutional Court and member of NU.

HKBP as the largest member church of The Lutheran World Federation in Indonesia has 4.5 million members. The LWF National Committee in Indonesia is currently working with member churches to promote interreligious dialogue and diapraxis.

Fernando Sihotang is a member of the LWF National Committee in Indonesia.

Report in Bahasi

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.