Atheists in Indonesia, Afraid For Their Lives, Fake Being Muslims

By David G. McAfee

Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims, but that number may be lower than we once thought because some locals are hiding their atheism out of fear of reprisal.

Living a double life isn’t all that uncommon in Indonesia, where atheists live in fear of being sent to jail (or worse) thanks to fundamentalist religious groups. AFP profiled one of these atheists, identified only as “Luna Atmowijoyo,” about her de-conversion from Islam years ago.

Atmowijoyo, who lives with her parents, still wears an Islamic headscarf to escape the wrath of an abusive father who knows nothing of his daughter’s change of heart, which started when she was told to avoid friendships with non-Muslims.

“A lot of simple things started to bother me,” said the 30-year-old, who asked AFP not to use her real name.

“Like I couldn’t say Merry Christmas or Happy Waisak to people of other religions,” she added, referring to a Buddhist holiday also known as Vesak or Buddha’s Birthday in other parts of Asia.

Treating gay people as abnormal was another problem and it soon became impossible for Atmowijoyo — once a conservative Islamic party member — to square the Koran’s teachings with science.

Then the unthinkable crept into her mind: God does not exist.

Most of us had this same realization at some point in our lives. Many of us have thought about how the LGBTQ community has been marginalized by followers of the Abrahamic religions. And nearly all of us (at least readers of this site) have thought to ourselves, Wow, God doesn’t exist.

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