Indonesia’s Pancasila explained

By July 5, 2023

Indonesia (MNN) — Some cultures, like the United States, tend to value the individual person more than the community. Others, like Indonesia, value the needs of the community over individual expression.

Bruce Allen with FMI says Indonesia needs group cohesion to hold a nation of 6,000 inhabited islands together. The government built this into the constitution after Dutch colonial rule ended in 1949.


They call it Pancasila. Allen says, “Essentially, Pancasila recognizes that if the nation is to thrive, its residents must recognize their diversity. There is a lot of variety inside the country. But they commit to working in harmony.”

The government decided to endorse several major world religions, and let people choose one of them. Allen says, “Islam is the preference from their perspective, of course. But they also allow other religions that have historically been involved in the islands. These include Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, as well as Christianity, which they broke into two sects: Protestant, and Catholic.”

This gives FMI partners in Indonesia a lot of opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their Muslim neighbors. By contrast, Allen says, “Many Christians in the US, if you mentioned working with Muslim neighbors, would say, ‘I don’t know any Muslims.’”

“We are much more into our own smaller groups and communities versus this big national identity.”

Ask God to grow the Indonesian Church.

Of course, Pancasila doesn’t work perfectly. Allen says some islands still have pockets of persecution against Christians, usually by the majority religion. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim majority nation in the world.

Want to support Indonesian church planters? You can, through FMI. Allen says, “We have talked previously about the capital of Indonesia shifting to a new island. And now we want to propel church planters in this new city.”


Header photo shows the Shield of Pancasila. The bull represents democracy, the tree national unity, the chain humanity, and the rice and cotton represent social justice. The star represents God. By Gunawan Kartapranata – Own work, Public Domain,