Yogyakarta - A hundred of religious experts from various countries plan to conduct research on positive and negative impacts of religion’s awakening on social political life of Southeast Asian people. The result of the research will serve as an input for the government of each country to anticipate dangerous impacts of religion’s awakening on public life. This emerged in International Conference entitled The Resurgence of Religion in Southeast Asia, 1997-2011.
Prof. John L. Esposito, Islamic studies expert from Georgetown University, USA, said that religion’s awakening in Southeast Asia occurs extraordinarily. According to Esposito, this phenomenon is very important to be studied further by scientists because up to now it has not received attention academically.
The writer of Masa Depan Islam (the Future of Islam) admitted that in many countries, every religion has good and bad influence on society. Religion is often used as political vehicle and to spread the bad will of individuals and group. “However, religion still gives good influence,” said the US prominent Islamic observer on Thursday (6/12).
He mentioned that Indonesia as the biggest Islamic country has great influence in world’s religious relationship. Therefore, Indonesian geo-political condition is given international attention. Moreover, many prominent Islamic observers study about Islam’s development in Indonesia.
However, Esposito agreed that the media also has important role in influencing religion’s awakening on community’s life, not only in Indonesia but also in South East Asia. International Representative of ICRS-Yogyakarta, Dr. Bernard Adeney-Risakotta, said that religion’s awakening in each country in South East Asia is different from each other. However, all development gives big influence on economic, social and political aspects. “This experience can give new understanding for each country to learn from each other,” he said.
Robert W. Hefner from Boston University revealed that religion’s awakening not only occurs in South East Asia but also in China. In China, the development is even prominent. “We try to study the current process without intervening,” he said.
Answering questions from the press related to the conference in Yogyakarta, Bernard emphasized that Indonesia is the most religious country. “The result of surveys showed that Indonesia is the most religious country in which 99% of its citizens are religious people,” he said.
Hefner has a different answer, he admitted that ICRS (Indonesian Consorsium for Religious Studies), the event organizer, is the most famous religious center of studies in international scope, not only in Asia but also in Europe and America. For those who will conduct religious studies and challenge in modern world, they will refer to this institution founded by three universities, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University and Duta Wacana University. “This institution is acknowledged by the international community,” he said.
ICRS Director, Dr. Siti Syamsiatun, said that the conference will be held every year as research project for academicians from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Netherlands, America, and Australia of which the result will be documented in a book.