Religious fundamentalism, a creeping problem in state universities: survey

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Jakarta. Religious education at Indonesian state universities could amplify fundamentalist tendencies among their students, making them more accepting of extremist ideas, a recent survey showed.

The Setara Institute’s “Student Religious Model,” a new study released on Sunday, involved 1,000 respondents of various religious beliefs from 10 state universities in Indonesia.

The study aimed to find out students’ perspectives on religious fundamentalism, conservatism, inclusiveness and religious violence.

The survey included yes or no questions, including the following: “The way to salvation in the world and the hereafter can only be found in my religion”; “Only my religion could meet the spiritual needs of every human”; “My religion is perfect and does not need additional guidance from others”; “Only my religion could create justice for all Indonesians”; “Indonesia will be safe if everyone follows the same religion.”

According to the study, the way people act towards followers of other religions is influenced by many factors, but family education is one of the most important.

“[It depends on] students. University campuses are neither inclusive nor exclusive [in general]”said Noryamin Aini, researcher at the Setara Institute on Sunday.

The study advances the proposition that fundamentalist views can strengthen religious faith and are not necessarily harmful to society, but can also have a negative effect if social pressures or irresponsible teaching lead them in a more extreme direction. .

“Religious fundamentalism could become the root of exclusivism and intolerant behavior if the social life of students also follows a strict fundamentalist view,” Noryamin said.

Policy changes needed

Deputy director of the Setara Institute, Bonar “Choky” Tigor Naipospos, said the study would be submitted to the government, along with suggestions for policy changes.

One of the suggestions is that the Ministry of Education and Culture move the compulsory religion course at state universities from the first semester to the fifth semester. This should prevent the recruitment of new students by religious groups based on campus.

Another suggestion from Setara is to employ philosophy graduates as professors for the religion course.

“If a lecturer belongs to an exclusive religious group, he will impose his beliefs on his students,” Choky said.

The study also suggests that the ministry should monitor religious fundamentalism at all state universities and send tolerant religious figures to lecture there.

Setara executive director Ismail Hasani said the government would do well to pay close attention to the study and that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should focus on fighting intolerance and radicalism during his second term.

State universities ranked according to their religious fundamentalism

The Setara study also includes a ranking of state universities according to the strength of the fundamentalist views of their students. The higher the score, the more likely students at the university are to be fundamentalists.

According to the list, students at the Islamic State University of Bandung are the most fundamentalists. The Jakarta branch of the same university is ranked second. Here is the full list:

– Islamic State University of Bandung, “religious fundamentalism score” of 45

– Islamic State University of Jakarta, 33

– Mataram University, 32

– Agricultural Institute of Bogor, 24

– Yogyakarta State University, 22

– Gadjah Mada University, 12

– Brawijaya University, 13

– Bandung Institute of Technology, 10

– Airlangga University, 8

– University of Indonesia, 7


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