Thursday, December 27, 2012

Indonesia's Islamic spirit of tolerance

Writing at Secular Right, Andrew Stuttaford quotes Barack Obama on Indonesia:
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:

1. Sweden2.03
2. New Zealand2.01
3. France1.99
4. Norway1.90
5. Great Britain1.87
6. Mali*1.85
7. Finland1.85
8. United States1.81
9. Canada1.80
10. Australia1.74
11. Switzerland1.72
12. Andorra1.71
13. South Africa1.70
14. Rwanda1.67
15. Argentina1.63
16. Trinidad and Tobago1.60
17. Burkina Faso1.55
18. Uruguay1.52
19. Ghana1.50
20. Taiwan1.42
21. Serbia1.41
22. Poland1.40
23. Brazil1.40
24. Netherlands1.38
25. Spain1.37
26. India1.36
27. Ethiopia1.36
28. South Korea1.35
29. Bulgaria1.35
30. Indonesia1.32
31. Georgia1.31
32. Germany1.30
33. Ukraine1.27
34. Zambia1.26
35. Italy1.26
36. Malaysia1.23
37. Chile1.21
38. Egypt1.21
39. Thailand1.16
40. Colombia1.15
41. Russia1.15
42. Vietnam1.15
43. Slovenia1.11
44. Romania1.10
45. Jordan1.05
46. Mexico1.02
47. Turkey1.01
48. Cyprus1.00
49. Moldova0.98
50. Morocco0.91
51. Peru0.89
52. China0.89

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


Noah172 said...

Mexico 1.02: Good thing that place isn't exporting bigots to another nation known for more religious tolerance, eh?

Germany 1.3 (below Indonesia): Still a bunch of Nazis, I see.

France 1.99: Did Le Pen voters and suburban Muslims boycott the poll?

Netherlands 1.38: You go, Geert!

Burkina Faso 1.55: Steve Sailer noted that this place was also high in tolerance for immigrants. Does the cause of gay rights poll well there? Have we found a unicorn: an impoverished black Muslim African nation with a SWPL outlook?

What's made Peru so cranky?

I notice that America's Most Important Ally was not polled on this question. Afraid of the likely results?

Black Death said...

In 2002, bombings on the (predominantly Hindu) island of Bali killed over 200 people. In 2005, bombings killed around 20. All of these attacks were carried out by Islamic terrorists. Why didn't our Dear Leader cite these instances as examples of Indonesia'a "tolerance?" Guess he forgot.

Audacious Epigone said...


Heh, nope. Iran, Jordan, and Indonesia (!) are less tolerant of homosexuality, but Burkina Faso is right behind them.