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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, July 24

Welcome back to Faithful Friday, our weekly survey of religions from around the world. After taking a look at the diverse religions of India and China we've turned out attention this week to the country of Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world by population and the largest Muslim majority country. In addition to Islam, Indonesia also officially recognizes four more religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Join us as we take a tour through all five faiths in the country.

Although Ramadan is best-known worldwide as the month-long fast in commemoration of the prophet Muhammad's own fasting before the revelation of the Quran to him according to Muslim tradition, it's not just a religious tradition, at least not for Muslim majority countries. Celebrated by over a billion people around the world simultaneously, Ramadan is also special economic season, as this article from The Conversation details.

When you imagine a Christian living in a Muslim majority country you probably don't imagine someone of Chinese ancestry. And you certainly don't imagine them as the leader of that country's capital. But that's precisely what happened in Indonesia when Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an Indonesian Christian of Hakka ancestry, was elected Governor of Jakarta last November. The New York Times has the full story of his incredible success.

Most Indonesians may be Muslims today, but a millennium ago Hinduism was the dominant religion of the country. Even today, the faith remains an important part of Indonesia's culture, dominant on the island of Bali and celebrated nationally in the form of celebrated performances honoring the ancient epics of India. You can read more about Hinduism's continuing relevance to modern Indonesians here.

In addition to Hinduism, Buddhism is another minority religion in Indonesia with a long and storied history. Although Buddhists today make up only 0.7% of the country's population, their impact on Indonesia remains strong and thousands still gather to celebrate festivals like the Gautama Buddha's birthday at Borobudur, the location of the world's largest Buddhist temple.

Lastly, we examine the smallest of Indonesia's recognized religions, Confucianism. Predominantly practiced by the country's ethnic Chinese minority, Confucianism is a relatively recent arrival in Indonesia but an important one nonetheless, playing a large part in the culture's moral and social framework. Over at Inside Indonesia writer Chang-Yau Hoon takes a close look at Confucianism's history in the country, including its recent return to prominence after decades of suppression by the Suharto government.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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