Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. The greatest threats facing Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, are possible interference and disruption by the previously politically involved military and the various Islamist groups throughout the country. These—combined with Indonesia’s poor human rights record, religious tensions and mass relocation programs due to overpopulation—generate tensions that could potentially boil into major violence.

Monotheism and communal peace are bases for the stated government ideology of Pancasila. Six religions are officially recognized: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism and Protestantism. Islam’s strength and influence in numbers (with more than 80 percent of the population Muslim) exerts itself on the religious scene by limiting Christian activities and public presence.

Places of worship must apply for a permit to build or hold worship in an existing building. An applicant is required to get approval from neighbours by gathering copies of their identification cards and signatures. Even when permit applications meet all legal and administrative requirements, authorities often neither approve nor deny the application.

Despite challenges, Christian evangelicals have increased from 1.3 million to 13 million in the last 50 years. In the last decade, an orchestrated Islamic jihad against Christians destroyed thousands of churches. Some areas with large Christian populations (such as parts of Maluku) are subject to attacks. A Christian presence has been eradicated from whole towns and regions, with great loss of life and property.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray specifically for continued growth of the Church in the midst of intense opposition and growing persecution.
  • Pray Christians, both national and expatriate, may use too-frequent natural disasters, like the 2004 tsunami, as opportunities to demonstrate the compassion of Christ.
  • Pray Islamists’ plans to eradicate Christians might be frustrated and come to ruin. Pray that what some intend for evil God will turn out for good. Pray the hatred and violence will discredit Muslim extremism and cause many persecutors to become believers.
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Indonesia Profile

245,613,043 (July 2011 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Javanese (40.6), Sundanese (15), Madurese (3.3), Minangkabau (2.7), Betawi (2.4), Bugis (2.4), Banten (2), Other (31.6)

Religion (%)
Islam (80.3), Christianity (15.9), Ethnic Religions (2.1), Hinduism (1.3), Buddhism (0.4)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Government type

Legal system
Based loosely on Roman-Dutch law; Shariah-inspired laws are being passed in more and more communities and even in entire provinces.

Statistics provided by CIA World Factbook, Joshua Project and Operation World.