Vietnam Government Asked to Review Law on Religion

A group of 27 civil society organisations have called on the government of Vietnam to edit a controversial draft law on religion, claiming that it is wide open to abuse.

<p>Catholics beat drums during a welcoming ceremony at a cathedral in Hanoi in January. (Photo by Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP)</p>

In a statement issued on 3rd November, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, along with other international organisations, including the International Commission of Jurists and Freedom House, urged the government to heavily revise its law.

The statement reads: “While the draft purports to acknowledge ‘the right to freedom of religion and belief’ and proclaims that the ‘government respects and protects the freedom of religion and belief of everyone,’ the provisions of the draft law, if passed, would act as a powerful instrument of control, placing sweeping, overly broad limitations on the practice of religion or belief within Vietnam, perpetuating the already repressive situation.”

Among the concerns listed in the joint statement are onerous registration requirements, excessive state control, and ambiguous wording that “could be used to perpetuate discrimination.”

In a 10-point recommendation, the groups urged a redraft that is in line with international law and recommendations from the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion.

Whether the Vietnam government will consider such recommendations remains to be seen. While Buddhism, Catholicism and Protestantism have all enjoyed some measure of growth in recent years, the government continues to monitor and control all religious activity — particularly that of ethnic minorities.

As with China, any groups that are deemed to be from splinter sects or unrecognised religions face particular repression.

  • Pray for Vietnam, as it grapples with the concept of religious freedom. Pray that the government will see Christianity, not as something to be feared, but as having a positive impact on society.
  • Pray that the government will listen to the concerns about the new law and seek to genuinely allow people to worship and meet together without fear or oppression.
  • Pray for Christians in Vietnam, for their protection, and for strong faith that perseveres regardless of their circumstances.
  • Pray that many in Vietnam will come to know Jesus, His life, love and hope.

Psalm 37 vs 28: “For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones.”


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