Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia (Edited by Chiara Formichi)

In this book, Part III: Pluralism and Individual Identities, Chapter 12: Pluralist currents and counter-currents in the Indonesian Mass Media: The Case of Anand Krishna, Professor Julia D Howell PhD, a doctorate in Anthropology and is now Professor of the Sociology of Religion in the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies at Western Sydney University, presented an investigation, research,and examination about the premeditated case of Spiritual Humanist Anand Krishna.
Prof. Howell took the concepts of place, religious pluralism and individual’s negotiations of identities to a transcendental level, as they look at charismatic figure’s embodiment of religious pluralism and their relationship to their audiences in Indonesia.
The trial of Anand Krishna, an ‘electric spiritual development figure’, was analysed here by Prof Howell as both a case of an individual’s embrace of religious pluralism and as an expedient to assess the role of the media in disseminating the concerns of conservative religious groups and in shaping public opinion.
She concluded that there was a strong allegation of using the mass media, both print and electronic, as sites for the contestation of religious pluralism in Indonesia since the restoration of effective democracy in 1998. This period can be seen as one of destabilization and dispute over divergent notions of religiosity as properly communalist or autonomous, with the scales tipping towards the communalist since the Indonesian Council of Ulama pronounced a series of fatwa against pluralism and liberalism in religion in 2005.[