Continued persecution of polytheists in Indonesia

I have just now come upon this very unfortunate story, which should be read carefully and reflected on. The indigenous tribes of Indonesia, called Orang Rimba, of whom about 3,000 are left, are being persecuted by corporations that cut down their forests and Muslims that force them to convert.

To encourage reading of the story, I will quote a missionary mentioned in the article:

“For now we are focusing on the children. It’s easier to convert them – their mind isn’t filled with other things. With the older ones it’s harder,” he says. “Before Islam they just believed in spirits, gods and goddesses, not the supreme god Allah. When someone died, they didn’t even bury the dead, they just would leave the body in the forest. Now their life has meaning and direction.”

Words fail me to describe the heinous evil and hatred expressed by this man.

9 thoughts on “Continued persecution of polytheists in Indonesia

  1. Jessica Triepel

    That’s really sad. And this is the general attitude expressed by followers of the Abrahamic religions. There is only their god and all other deities, beliefs and customs are belittled.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. heathenembers

    What a deplorable state of affairs. Actions like this demean Islam, yet at the same time are totally in character with monotheistic practices. They are merely using their religion as a weapon to pillage the jungle. Disgraceful. Thanks for sharing the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Paul

    Thanks for sharing this, Melas. One wonders for how many ages their Ancestors passed down their religion to their modern-day descendants in an unbroken line, as well as our own before we were so cruelly cut off from our own native religion(s).

    What a tragedy that their religion is being eroded by both monotheist interlopers along with some of them deliberately making the choice to convert. Doubly sad is that the great forest is poisoned and dies along with it, and in the name of profit no less. Who needs a rich, ancient forest when you can chop it all down and replace it with a chemically-drenched plantation?

    I hope they are indeed able to have their religion recognized and protected, although given the aggression and utter arrogance of monotheists (both historical and modern), I wouldn’t blame anyone for being a pessimist in this regard. Their custom of planting three trees for a child, and then protecting them and educating their children about their significance as they roam the forest is incredibly beautiful, and I have much respect for the man who vowed to never convert or abandon the forest.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Well said, friend! Polytheism, in its many traditions, is a holistic system and way of life that gives us happiness through principles and harmony with nature, people, and the universe. Monotheism never fails to subvert this balance in some way or another!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. K

    400-500 years ago, what is now Indonesia was still mostly non-Muslim. There are many ruins of Hindu(mostly Shaiva) and Buddhist temples in Indonesia. And then there were all the unnamed variations of polytheism practiced by different tribes. They are a bit less removed from their past in regard to time than Europe is, and yet Islam became dominant so quickly after introduction. Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country now.

    These people don’t stand a chance against Islam. Only numerous, technologically advanced, and united people have managed to stave it off. Not even those factors guarantee this, since the Persians were a notable early conquest for Islam, even if Persia’s devastating war with the Byzantines and plagues hurt their chances. Unless something drastic happens, they will end up like all the others.

    I don’t know if you are aware of them or not, but a similar situation is faced by the Kalash in Pakistan. They are remnants of Indo-Europeans (and Indo-Iranian religion) surrounded by a large population of Muslims. Related people in Afghanistan and Pakistan were forced to convert or die from a period of 80-100 years ago, and other populations of these people were displaced and wiped out in wars by the Muslim Emir Abdur Rahman Khan in the 1890’s. So the Kalash today are a remnant of a remnant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Thanks for the comment and useful information. I had heard of the Kalash and seen a documentary about them–they are an extraordinary tribe. In spite of so much persecution and indeed because of it, we hope at least that the Orang Rimba can get their religion recognized (and hence protected) by the state like the Kalash. Muslims in Pakistan can be far more fanatical than those in Indonesia, and if the Kalash could be protected, let us pray that the Orang Rimba will enjoy the same!


  5. K

    I would not be surprised if some Christian missionaries didn’t try to scoop the Orang Rimba up. Christianity is one of the accepted religions in Indonesia by law. They are having a hard time, and it should be easy to take advantage of that. Kind of like how it’s done in India. It could already be going on. Even if the Muslims leave their religion alone, which is never safe to bet on, they still face their mode of life being destroyed and eventual displacement, leaving them vulnerable to the softer type of conversion. The Orang Rimba don’t have much of a future with the world moving or being moved away from their way of life. Any little place left will eventually be taken away.

    And even if they somehow manage to keep their mode of life, the Religion of Love and the Religion of Peace never stop. To put it in perspective, I recently looked at something from some would be missionaries worrying over Hawaiian traditional beliefs. Traditional beliefs referring to both revival and to practices here and there mixed in with various forms of Christianity(making their Christianity impure). They are not at all satisfied when their opponent is mostly beaten. And with nothing else to do, they go after each other for not following the text rightly.

    If they could game the system a bit, they might slip by classifying themselves as Buddhists, Hindus, or Confucians. Those are officially allowed, and a lot of things classed as those in Indonesia are just folk religions using the designation to get by. There is precedent for this. Chinese in Indonesia don’t have much of a problem getting by with their ancestor worship and traditional beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person


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