The Paramadina Centre for the Study of Religion and Democracy (PUSAD Paramadina) is an autonomous institution under the Paramadina Waqf Foundation, which conducts research and advocacy in the social, political and religious fields. Established in 2008, PUSAD Paramadina’s mission is to increase the capacity of the state and society in managing conflict peacefully and democratically by studying and highlighting the role of religion in such processes. PUSAD Paramadina has conducted studies in the fields of religion, conflict and peacebuilding, translated these studies into policies, and collaborated with elements of society and the government to strengthen peaceful interaction between religion and democracy in Indonesia.
In 2018, PUSAD Paramadina began to develop a database that compiles the basic profile and performance of the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) in all provinces and districts/cities in Indonesia. The Joint Regulation of the Minister of Religion and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 9 and No. 8 of 2006 stipulates that FKUB is a forum formed by the community and facilitated by the government to build, maintain and empower religious communities. The development of the FKUB database continues the initiatives that PUSAD Paramadina has undertaken in the last 10 years with FKUB in many regions, and addresses the scarcity of evidence for improving FKUB, as studies on FKUB are still scattered and mostly done at the local level.
In developing the FKUB database, PUSAD Paramadina collaborated with the Centre for Religious Harmony (PKUB) of the Ministry of Religious Affairs by distributing questionnaires to all provincial FKUBs and a number of districts/cities. Most of the questionnaires were distributed through the Ministry of Religious Affairs Regional Office staff at the provincial and district/city level, or were addressed directly to local FKUB staff and returned via courier. Questionnaires were also distributed by PUSAD researchers at the FKUB Association Conference and All-Indonesia FKUB Coordination Meetings in Tarakan in September 2018, as well as directly during visits to FKUBs on various occasions. In the process of developing this database, PUSAD included several organizations such as Komnas Perempuan (Commission for the Elimination of Violence Against Women), the police and academics in its analysis.
With data analysis results from these questionnaires, PUSAD Paramadina, together with PKUB, followed up with an in-depth study of FKUBs in four provinces and four cities: 1) North Sulawesi Province FKUB and Tomohon City FKUB, 2) Central Java Province FKUB and Surakarta City FKUB, 3) FKUB West Java Province and Tasikmalaya Regency FKUB, and 4) West Kalimantan FKUB and Pontianak City FKUB. In each of these regions, PUSAD researchers met with FKUB administrators and relevant stakeholders, such as the regional government, local, national and political unity agencies (Kesbangpol), regional police, representatives of religious councils, community leaders, civil society organizations and others.
In 2020, the Ministry of Religious Affairs’ Research and Development Agency supported PUSAD to develop the database with data collection and analysis, and to develop joint recommendations to the Minister of Religious Affairs on the best way to improve FKUB performance. The development of the FKUB database, which was carried out until 2020, produced information on the profile and performance of 237 FKUBs, which is around 43 percent of the total 548 FKUBs throughout Indonesia. The FKUB database was launched on 8 December 2020 by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Fachrul Razi, at a religious policy forum event that discussed the theme of religious moderation, religious harmony and FKUB.
At the launch of the FKUB database, Minister Fachrul Razi said he appreciated and supported efforts to develop the database as an evidence base. “As the Minister of Religious Affairs, I am pleased with this academic effort. I always place high importance on the contribution of thoughts and research to inform decision making based on data and facts (evidence-based policymaking),” Minister Fachrul said. He supports the synergistic collaboration of the ministry’s research and development agency, PKUB, and PUSAD Paramadina in efforts to strengthen FKUB, including the provision of FKUB data. In his view, data is key to producing good and solid policy.
Institutionalizing the Database
In 2021, PUSAD Paramadina will focus on knowledge-based policy reforms related to improving FKUB institutions. PUSAD Paramadina is strengthening the quality and quantity of the FKUB database to cover 70 percent of all FKUBs in Indonesia by the end of 2021 by involving various stakeholders, including policymakers, FKUB, and civil society organizations. At the national level, PUSAD Paramadina is encouraging the development of a database as the basis for policies on religious harmony in Indonesia. This is illustrated by PKUB’s use of the FKUB database as a consideration for determining the annual Harmony Award, given by the Ministry of Religious Affairs to the best FKUBs and local governments. PUSAD also encourages the Ministry of Religious Affairs to use the FKUB database as a reference in determining the extra-budgetary assistance allocated annually by the Ministry of Religious Affairs for FKUBs.
At the sub-national level, PUSAD Paramadina encourages city and district FKUBs to institute mediation and facilitation as a method and means of peacefully responding to disputes related to religious matters. This was one of the findings of the study based on the FKUB database. To that end, PUSAD specifically encouraged four FKUBs from two cities and two districts to adopt PUSAD Paramadina’s recommendations to reform their institutions by adding mediation and facilitation functions. PUSAD continues its close relationship with various stakeholders at the sub-national level to discuss the legal framework for adding mediation and facilitation functions in FKUB.
Apart from its benefits for the government, the FKUB database can be used by other interested parties for various purposes, as its ultimate goal is to promote religious harmony in Indonesia. With the FKUB database available, researchers and academics, or students in general, for example, can study the issue of religious harmony and the role of FKUBs and draw good lessons from it. Meanwhile, religious leaders, non-governmental or donor organizations can also use the database to plan and implement initiatives to strengthen tolerance and inter-religious cooperation in Indonesia.
Support of the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI)
KSI’s support helped PUSAD Paramadina develop the FKUB database and research through a series of activities, including the distribution of questionnaires and field studies, as well as discussions with stakeholders. KSI’s support is mainly in the form of a funding scheme that allows PUSAD Paramadina to design and implement its planned research and advocacy. Through program logic sessions and evaluation and monitoring support, KSI also helps PUSAD Paramadina to oversee policies more systematically and to integrate reflective processes into its work. KSI also supported PUSAD Paramadina to complete data about FKUB through a study on the legal framework of religious life in Indonesia, to support advocacy on freedom of religion.