Church leaders from north Vietnam say the government is expressing an openness to the possibility of reforming the restrictive edict on religion, Decree 92, that was implemented in 2013.
A church leader from the north told Open Doors: “The government seems to be loosening a bit on religion, but not on human rights issues. Last February, another Pastor and I met with government officials, and we were given the impression that things will get better.”
Wang (not his real name) said the government is currently drafting a new law on religion that will supersede the two-year-old decree. “They’re taking a new approach now,” he continued. “They think it will be more beneficial to work with religious groups rather than oppose them.”
“From what we’ve heard, there will be a more relaxed requirement in the recognition of churches,” he explained. “For example, groups that have a good record for 10 years will have a strong chance to be recognized.” Decree 92 only allows the recognition of churches that have existed for 20 years.
“The government is observing how [other] governments relate with organized religion inside and outside the country. They somehow realize that it will be for their advantage if they start practicing leniency,” another Pastor added.
However, despite the government’s move towards open-mindedness, the pastors report that the state is still afraid of the church. “Things have improved, but we can’t say the church’s label as a threat is completely gone. I believe it’s still there. Reduced, perhaps. But last year, the government observed the behavior of the Evangelical church, and because of our good standing, they’re now open to reform.”
The pastors believe the new law is slated for completion this May, and will come under further review by lawmakers in November.
- Give thanks for the openness of the Vietnam Government to start working with the Church there.
- Pray for the new laws to be passed and for continued growing freedom for the Church in Vietnam.
- Pray for Church leaders who are in prison to have hope, and for their release as the government takes steps towards religious freedom.
- Pray for the Church in Vietnam to continue to grow, and to be a witness to the authorities of the truth of the Gospel.
Acts 16 vs 5: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.”