Leaders of large nations wield tremendous control, but they run the risk of losing control unless they gain the respect of the citizenry (or alternatively force their will through dictatorship). The larger the nation, the greater the challenge.
China encourages atheism and discourages religion.
Indonesia pretends that atheism does not exist and forces citizens to pick a religion.
We can learn something of value by examining the strategies of these two large nations.
China, a nation with the largest human population on Earth, governs through its officially atheist 中国共产党 Communist Party of China and officially recognizes five religions: Buddhism (18.2%), Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam (1.8%). A 2015 poll conducted by Gallup International found that “A convinced atheist” is the response given by 61% of the Chinese people.
The Communist Party of China prohibits its nearly ninety million party members from holding religious beliefs and it has demanded the expulsion of party members who belong to religious organizations. Officials have said that Party membership and religious beliefs are incompatible, and they discourage the family of Party members from publicly participating in religious ceremonies.
Every Chinese citizen 16 years and older shall have a Resident Identity Card. People must carry identification in public at all times. The identity card is the only acceptable legal document to obtain resident permit, obtain employment, open bank accounts, obtain passport, obtain driver license, apply for tertiary education and technical colleges, pass security checkpoints in domestic terminals of Chinese airports and check-in at hotels.
China does not display a person’s religion right on the face of a Resident Identity Card, but China stores information in a biometric ID card database such as work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, et cetera.
Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority nation, governs through a unitary presidential constitutional republic and officially recognizes six religions: Islam (87%), Protestantism (7%), Catholicism (2.9%), Hinduism (1.7%), Buddhism (<1%) and Confucianism (<1%). Indonesia has the fourth largest human population on Earth, after China, India and the United States. More Muslims live in Indonesia than any in any other nation.
Indonesia issues a Resident Identity Card to citizens reaching the age of 17 or at marriage. Indonesian citizens must renew the card every five years.
Indonesia forces its citizens to pick a religion from a short list. Picking no religion is not an option.
Finding a unifying factor is essential for national success. Both Indonesia and China use religion to unify, but in opposite ways. Another unifying factor essential for national success is the establishment of a national measurement standard. No nation would be able to carry out even the most basic functions unless all citizens agree on the same measuring stick. Pragmatism demands it. Can you imagine each village using different units of measure? It would be chaos.
On a broader scale, and now that we have crossed the threshold into the Modern Era, any nation still clinging to legacy units of measure is comparable to villages chaotically using different units of measure; it does not work within a nation, and it does not work on a planet.
See how France and Brasil and Germany and Turkey and China and Japan and India and Australia found their paths to national metrication and find out how the Untied States can too by clicking on those nations.