The United States-Indonesia Society (USINDO) and committed non-government Indonesian and American leaders from the religious, academic, and non-government sectors of each country announce the creation of the Indonesia-U.S. Council on Religion and Pluralism in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on August 11, 2016.
An independent, bi-national, non-governmental body, the Council is also welcomed by the two governments. Presidents Jokowi and Obama have “endorsed the Council on Religion and Pluralism, an innovative bilateral mechanism, designed to promote pluralism, tolerance, and moderation.”
Indonesia and the United States, with our strong and varied religious traditions, have each historically valued diversity, religious tolerance, and pluralism. Although each country still has issues to address, and the composition of religions in each country is quite different, the issues being faced are similar. In a world increasingly at risk owing to misunderstanding and intolerance of other religions, lack of appreciation of diversity, and religious extremism, it is important for the positive values of Indonesia and the United States to be shared and enhanced in both countries, as well as more broadly. Yet, our two countries have not done so in a concerted way.
The Council will therefore develop a shared understanding of how the United States and Indonesia are each religiously diverse and tolerant, identify the remaining challenges we each face in the sphere of religion and pluralism, and explore what the people of our two countries we might do together in these areas.
The founding meeting of the council held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia convened the Council’s members and identified priority areas of shared interest, experience, and concern. They are:
- Increasing Religious Understanding, Mutual Respect, and Collaboration
- Identifying and Fostering Positive Civic and Religious Education Models that Promote Analytical Thinking and Respect
- Empowering Civil Society to Deter Violent Extremism
The Council will strengthen networks between and in both countries, and has begun to identify proposed concrete initiatives in the priority areas which may be undertaken by the Council. Activities selected for implementation will be compelling, relevant, not done effectively previously, draw on the unique composition of the Council, and use an evidence-based process. These would, subject to further refinement and availability of resources, start to address the Council’s selected goals.
Council Members, Co-Chairs, and Working Groups
A complete list of the Council Members is attached here .
The Council selected as its Co-Chairs Imam Jihad Turk, Founding President of Bayan Claremont, an Islamic graduate school in Southern California, and Ibu Yenny Wahid, Director, the Wahid Institute. They will lead a bi-national Executive Committee to implement the Council’s initiatives under the oversight of the Council. The Executive Committee includes the Co-Chairs of Working Groups in each of the Council’s three priority areas, and the President of USINDO, a bi-national organization.
View the Council’s Press Release in English here.
View the Council’s Press Release in Indonesian here.