Educating for Unity in Diversity: Religious Education for Transformation in the Context of Everyday Religious Conflict in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Alexander Hendra Dwi Asmara, Fordham University


This study examines how religious education in Indonesia today must address more intentionally the everyday religious conflict that plagues the nation. It proposes a model of religious education for transformation (focusing on personal, social, and religious transformation) that is rooted in an ethic of solidarity for the common good. An ethic of solidarity entails a willingness to accept differences in society and an effort by people of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds to find ways of living together despite differences. Solidarity actualizes a dialectic of otherness in relation to togetherness that resonates with the Indonesian motto of “unity in diversity.” The study shows how an ethic of solidarity can be realized through religious education by exploring the works of three Indonesian religious educators–Mangunwijaya, Banawiratma, and Katoppo–who have developed theological and educational approaches to educating for transformation in Indonesia. They share the same goal, namely, to develop Indonesia as a fully independent country, a country that is liberated not only from social and political oppression but also from the current culture of exclusion symbolized by everyday religious conflict. The study presents “live-in” education as the best practice of religious education for transformation in Indonesia. Rooted in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (Pedagogi Paradigma Reflektive St. Ignatius) that emphasizes reflection and action, “live-in” education nurtures a holistic transformation that includes socio-cultural, educational, and theological transformation. From a socio-cultural perspective, “live-in” education provides a social approach that helps people to critically reflect on social reality, particularly the growth of everyday religious conflict in contemporary Indonesia. Even though “live-in” education was initiated and developed by Jesuit, Catholic educators in a school setting, as a praxis (reflection and action) and socially-oriented approach. It can be adopted in other educational contexts. Specifically, it could be utilized in families, faith communities, local community organizations, and other settings as well. From an educational perspective, “live-in” education integrates the intellectual life with faith, piety, integrity, and civic mindedness. It helps students to become more aware of social realities and engenders an active commitment to participate in public life and transform society. The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm of “live-in” fosters conscientization and encourages students to commit to social transformation through concrete actions. From theological perspective, “live-in” education actualizes the Indonesian Church’s concern for fostering harmonious and non-exclusive faith communities. “Live-in” education guides people to be attentive to their interreligious experience during an immersion experience and to be open to reflecting on God’s presence in other religions. By nurturing holistic transformation, “live-in” education can restore the harmony and dialogue that once characterized Indonesia as a nation.

Subject Area

Religious education|Southeast Asian studies|Theology|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Asmara, Alexander Hendra Dwi, "Educating for Unity in Diversity: Religious Education for Transformation in the Context of Everyday Religious Conflict in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28148881.