Those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your constitution, symbolized in your mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that is embodied in your people — that still lives on.When evaluating flattering fluff like this, my instinct is to try and quantifiably evaluate how much truth, if any, it contains. When the subject is international in scope, the World Values Survey, imperfect and eccentric though it may be, is one of the best places to turn. In the most recent wave spanning the years 2005-2008, it asked respondents in several countries how much they trust people of a different religion than their own. There were four possible responses. I've assigned them scores of 3, 2, 1, and 0 for "trust completely", "trust a little", "trust not very much", and "not trust at all", respectively, to create a simple trust index that shows each country's mean score:
|2. New Zealand||2.01|
|5. Great Britain||1.87|
|8. United States||1.81|
|13. South Africa||1.70|
|16. Trinidad and Tobago||1.60|
|17. Burkina Faso||1.55|
|28. South Korea||1.35|
Coming in at 30 of 52 countries, Indonesia is rather middling in terms of attitudinal religious tolerance. It does better than four (or possibly five) of the six other Muslim countries on the list--Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. *The data on Mali may have been transcribed backwards. If so, it should be placed in the company of Russia and Vietnam, which means Indonesia deserves its designation as a "moderate Muslim" country. The Mali data may be correct, on the other hand, as its responses are similar to those reported in Burkina Faso, a country that is 60% Muslim. When dealing with reliable data on Africa, a healthy dose of skepticism is always in order.
All religions are not created equal, however, and Indonesia comes in well below the Anglophone (read Christian and post-Christian) nations. By the standards Obama has grown up observing, Indonesian attitudes can hardly be said to foster a "spirit of tolerance".
Parenthetically, the Han Chinese are nationalistic, a substantial number of Germans agree with Thilo Sarrazin, Sweden is the most tolerant place in the universe, and some values do indeed stop at the Rio Grande.
WVS variables used: V129