. Chapter 7. Muslim and Christian Relations in Kolojonggo

Table of Contents

Development of Christianity in Java and Yogyakarta: Some Statistical Considerations
Development of Christianity in Kolojonggo
Clarification of the Boundary between Muslims and Christians
Expansion of Religious Difference in Non-Religious Domains

In Kolojonggo, Wednesday evenings symbolise the co-existence of two religious communities. Both Muslim and Protestant villagers hold their weekly learning courses, the former in the masjid, and the latter in the house of a Protestant family. The evenings when Christians have a meeting in a house near the masjid give villagers an additional chance to appreciate their religious difference. A group of villagers from the same neighbourhood, walking and chatting together, arrives at the masjid and then separates, each group heading for a different place. On these occasions, it often happens that Muslims sitting inside the masjid and listening to the sermon about the Grace of Allah hear a hymn praising Jesus Christ.

The importance of one's religious identity, previously confined to the religious domain, has begun to extend into non-religious domains. This is most clearly manifested in the life of some youth whose peer group solidarity is limited to those of the same religion. They play, chat, eat, watch television and go to the market mainly with either Muslims or Christians. Another example of the increasing importance of religious identity in non-religious domains is the activities of BAZIS which collects religious alms solely from, and uses it only for, Muslims. BAZIS activities indicate that the consideration of villagers’ economic welfare, conventionally thought to be the duty of community, kin group or a family, is now viewed as the responsibility of a religious community. These developments show that the previously fixed division between the religious and the non-religious is in the process of erosion.

The purpose of the present chapter, and the next chapter, is to examine the relations between Muslims and Christians in Kolojonggo at the point at which religious identity has gradually extended into non-religious domains. One thing that should be considered in this discussion is the effects of outside influences on these relations and the ways villagers perceive them. The first of these is the government's policy of suppressing any expression of open conflict, which has helped the concept of harmony (rukun) become an official idiom in village life. As a result, conflicting interests between Muslims and Christians have not been expressed in public but remained hidden, unseen from the outside. The second outside influence is that of Muslim intellectuals from Yogyakarta city. Their perspective on Christianity and Christianisation has flowed into rural areas through various channels, helping Muslim villagers to re-conceptualise their relations to Christians.

The first part of this chapter will look at the development of Christianity in Java and Yogyakarta after the independence of Indonesia, focusing on the statistical expansion of the Christian population. In the second part, the development of Christianity in Kolojonggo will be discussed. This will be followed by a discussion of Muslim villagers' growing consciousness of religious difference and expansion of the religious difference in non-religious domains.

Development of Christianity in Java and Yogyakarta: Some Statistical Considerations

Although indigenous Christian communities were present in several parts of Java in the 19th century [1] and Christian missionaries were allowed to work among the Javanese Muslims from the mid-19th century (Hefner,1993b:99-100), the numeric expansion of Christians in Java was not so remarkable in the Dutch Colonial period. The 1930 census shows that only 0.27 percent of the total population in Java embraced either Protestantism or Catholicism (Rauws et al.1935). The pace of Christian expansion accelerated in the Old Order Period. Between 1953 and 1964, the Roman Catholic Church doubled its followers in Java (Lembaga Penelitian dan Pembangunan Sosial,1968:table33), while membership growth of a few Protestant Churches in Java reached more than 20 percent per annum between 1960 and 1964 (Willis,1977:192).

The growth of Christians in Java before 1965, however, bears little comparison with that from 1965 to the early seventies. In this period, both the Protestant and Catholic Churches witnessed an extraordinary increase in new converts to Christianity. More than a million Javanese converted to Christianity between 1965 and 1971. Local level statistics show the same picture: the average increase in members among five denominations of the Protestant Church in Java reached 27.6 percent per annum in 1965-1967 and 13.7 percent in 1968-71, compared with 7.7 percent in 1960-64 (Willis,1971:110). The growth of the Catholic Church in Java reached 18.2 percent per annum in 1965-71 (Lembaga Penelitian Dan Pembangunan Sosial,1968). The high growth of the Christian population from 1965 to 1971 was not drastically interrupted in subsequent decades. The Christian Churches in Java gained almost two million Christians between 1971 and 1990. With this growth in the absolute number of Christians, the ratio of Christians to the total population has gradually increased as Figure VII-1 indicates:

Figure VII-1: Percentage of Christians in Java and Indonesia (1930-1990)
Figure VII-1: Percentage of Christians in Java and Indonesia (1930-1990)

Source: 1930: Rauws et al. (1935); 1953 & 1967: Protestants from Cooley (1967); Catholics from Lembaga Penelitian Dan Pembangunan Sosial (1968); 1971, 1980 & 1990: Official Statistics based on national census.

Figure VII-2: Number of Christians in Java (1930-1990)
Figure VII-2: Number of Christians in Java (1930-1990)

Source: As for Figure VII-1.

Table VII.1: Percentage of Christians in Java (City and District / Urban and Rural)
   

1971

     

1980

     

1990

 
 

Cities

Districts

Total

 

Cities

Districts

Total

 

Urban

Rural

Total

Jakarta

8.0

-

8.0

 

9.3

-

9.3

 

10.9

-

10.9

West Java

7.8

0.6

1.1

 

8.0

0.5

1.1

 

4.6

0.4

1.8

Central Java

12.9

1.4

2.2

 

14.0

1.7

2.6

 

8.2

1.4

3.2

Yogyakarta

14.9

3.0

4.6

 

18.1

4.9

6.8

 

13.2

5.6

9.0

East Java

8.9

0.9

1.7

 

9.9

1.1

2.1

 

7.1

0.9

2.6

Java

9.9

1.0

2.1

 

10.9

1.2

2.6

 

7.5

1.0

3.3

Source: Census Data

The 1971 and subsequent census data on the number of religious followers show two interesting points related to the geographical deployment of Christians in Java. First, a higher ratio of Christians to the total population is found in municipalities (kotamadya) than in districts (kabupaten) where rural villages are located. As table VII-1 shows, the ratio of Christians in the municipalities reached 9.9 percent in 1971 and 10.9 percent in 1980 while that in the districts was 1.0 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. More reliable data showing the deployment of Christian populations in urban and rural areas can be obtained in the 1990 census since this census classified the urbanised parts in each district in the category of the urban.[2] In 1990, the ratio of Christians in urban areas was 7.5 percent while that in rural areas, 1.0 percent.

Second, the census data make clear that some districts in Java have been more open to the spread of Christianity than others. When the ratio of Christians to the total population in eighty-two districts in Java is compared, this becomes clearer, as Figure VII-3 portrays.

Figure VII-3 shows that in 1980, Central Java and Yogyakarta possessed a higher Christian ratio than East and West Java. One of the interesting features in Figure VII-3 is that four districts in Yogyakarta are ranked at the top among thirty three districts in Central Java and Yogyakarta.[3] To take a more precise look at this feature, a ratio of Christians in four districts of Yogyakarta and that in twenty-nine districts of Central Java is compared in table VII-2. As this table indicates, four districts in Yogyakarta had a ratio of Christians which was three times higher than districts in Central Java in 1971 and this gap widened in the 1970s, making the ratio more than four to one in 1980.

Figure VII-3: Percentage of Christians in 82 Districts in Java, 1980
Figure VII-3: Percentage of Christians in 82 Districts in Java, 1980

Source: 1980 Census.
Note: Percentage of Christians in Jakarta (9.3%) is not marked on this map.

Table VII.2: Percentage of Christians in Central Java and Yogyakarta
   

Year

 
 

1971

1980

1991

29 districts in Central Java

0.9

1.1

n.a.

4 districts in Yogyakarta

3.0

4.9

5.2

Sleman

3.1

7.5

8.2

Bantul

2.8

3.4

3.3

Kulon Progo

5.6

5.7

5.8

Gunung Kidul

1.5

3.3

3.7

Source: 1971 and 1980 from Census Data; 1991 from Kantor Statistik Yogyakarta (1991).

One of the remarkable features in Table VII-2 is the rapid growth of the Christian population in the district of Sleman (and Gunung Kidul). The percentage of Christians in Sleman was much lower than that in Kulon Progo in 1970 but, in subsequent years, it surpassed the latter. The annual increase rate of Christians in Sleman was 11.9 percent in 1971-1980, which exceeded the increase of three other districts in Yogyakarta and of twenty-nine districts in Central Java. [4] Overall, the statistics show that of the eighty-two districts in Java, the highest ratio of Christians to the total population in 1980 and probably in 1990 [5] was found in the district of Sleman where Kolojonggo is located. [6]

In Yogyakarta, rapid expansion of Christianity and the presence of a higher ratio of Christians have given Muslims more opportunities of witnessing the process of Christianisation and of interacting with Christians than Muslims in other parts of Java. The other factor which makes Yogyakarta peculiar is that it hosts the headquarters of Muhammadiyah and many reformist intellectuals. These then have helped to create an environment in which the issue of Christianisation is discussed more seriously and frequently by Muslim intellectuals than in any other part of Java. For example, in the Muhammadiyah Congress held in 1990, the harmonious life among followers of different religions came to the fore. One of the resolutions of this Congress called for the government to take strong action against the violation of the government decree prohibiting the missionary activities toward Muslims. [7] Reformist intellectuals' concern about Christian missions is well expressed in an article officially published by Muhammadiyah, a part of which goes as follows:

As we witness in Indonesia, Protestants and Catholics have spread their religion professionally. For two decades since the installation of the New Order Government, we have witnessed an extraordinary expansion of these two religions: the increase in the percentage of Christians [in the total population], [the foundation of] many churches and the spread of schools [established by Christians] into the rural villages. As is known, power of attraction in Christianity is not its teaching and Scripture, but [its capability to carry out] community service such as giving out foods and clothes to the poor, and assisting orphans, the decrepit, those experiencing disasters and so on (Muhammadiyah, 1991:104-105).

The concern of reformist intellectuals about Christianisation was not confined to their own circle but spread gradually to the countryside by way of the network of pengajian, publications, individual contact and so on. As a result, relations between Muslims and Christians in the rural areas of Yogyakarta have been constructed not only by local dynamics but by influences from Muslim intellectuals in the city. The frameworks that these intellectuals use to grasp the issue of Christianisation and Christianity constitute Muslim villagers’ understanding of their relations with Christians.