Saminism followers want exemption from ‘religion section’ on e-ID

Jakarta, Indonesia - With not adhering to specific religion, followers of the Sedulur Sikep faith, better known as Samin, have requested exemption from filling in religion section on their electronic identity cards (e-ID).

A Samin elder from Larikrejo village, Undaan district, Kudus regency, Central Java, Budi Santoso hoped the government would respect and recognize the option by Samin to leave the religion section on the e-ID cards blank.

He said Sedulur Sikep members neither adhered to Islam nor any of the other of five official religions recognized by the state.

“District officials recently came to promote the implementation of e-ID but they did not specifically mention about the religion column. We wish it to be left blank,” Budi said in Semarang over the weekend.

The religion column on the ID cards of Samin followers in the past four years has in fact been omitted, but Budi and other followers said they were concerned that the new e-ID would change their religious status keeping in mind religion has become a sensitive issue as of late.

“The religious issue is very sensitive now. We know many people would not easily understand this [leaving out the religion column], but we have our own understanding of our faith,” said Budi.

Budi acknowledged that Sedulur Sikep was a minority group with a small number of followers. The Saminism teachings have been spread in areas, such as Blora, Kudus, Pati, Rembang and Bojonegara.

In Kudus alone, Sedulur Sikep followers reside in five villages, three of which in Undaan district, namely Larikrejo, Kutuk and Karangrowo villages, while the other two villages are Bulungkulon village in Jekulo district and Jati Wetan village in Jati district, all numbering around 100 families.

Samin comes from the Javanese word sami, which means the same, so all living things are no different from one another.

“Everyone has the responsibility to respect each other,” said Budi.

The Saminism doctrine were nurtured in reaction to the authoritarian rule of the Dutch colonial administration. They showed their resistance by boycotting tax payments to the Dutch.

The community lived in seclusiveness, on their own customs and tradition, such as which related to marriage, in which they do not feel obliged to file at the civil registry.

In addition to demanding the religion column be omitted, Budi also expressed hope the government address their rights in social relationships.

He said Sedulur Sikep children still faced discrimination during the religious lesson in school. Those who study at formal education institutions are forced to learn Islam, whereas in fact, added Budi, as they have their own beliefs.

“The school should know that we are outside the six religions,” said Budi.

Semarang chapter Social Studies Institution (eLSA) director Tedi Kholiluddi said it was an ordinary matter if the Samin followers requested the religion column be left out.

According to him, the matter has been regulated in Law No. 26/2006 on administration and population. Article 61 states that the religion column of the ID cards of citizens whose faith has not been recognized as a religion, in accordance with the law, it may not be filled but they must be served and recorded in the population database.