Vietnam’s Communist Party recently released a revision to their official policy on religion, Decree 92. This new law places severe restrictions on the freedom to worship. Read this exclusive update from Pastor Quang, one of Vietnam’s key Christian leaders, to find out more.
Pastor Quang is a well-known Mennonite pastor in Vietnam who has been arrested, interrogated, beaten and imprisoned by the police more times than he can count. We met with him earlier this year and he told us about some serious developments regarding the Communist government’s policy on religion.
On 1 January 2013 the Communist Party released Decree 92, a revision to their official policy on religion, which requires all religious organisations to register their activities with the government and apply for official recognition to have permission to meet for worship. This new law makes life even more difficult for believers in Vietnam and places severe restrictions on the freedom to worship.
Protestant lawyer and human rights activist Nguyen Van Dai, a critic of Decree 92 said, The decree is intended to provide the tools to end the house church movement entirely.” The Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship (VEF), an organisation supported by over 25 house church denominations in Vietnam, is also very concerned regarding the enforcement of Decree 92 as well as the severity of these new rules and regulations.
Trying to Bribe Pastors
Pastor Quang told us that another strategy the authorities are using to control Vietnamese churches is trying to bribe church leaders. The government gives large sums of money to pastors to persuade them to come under their control. They say they will stop persecuting the church and if the pastor becomes a government secret agent and influences the congregation to be obedient to the government.
This is the way the government tries to control the church ‘ by controlling the pastors.
Unfortunately, this strategy is beginning to work and is bringing division among church leaders. They no longer believe or trust one another and Pastor Quang is concerned that the government is becoming the head of the church rather than Christ and that they are in fact controlling denominations.
Pastor Quang: No Compromise
Pastor Quang continually faces opposition because he refuses to be controlled by the Communist authorities. He said, “They are constantly trying to frustrate me and to make me submit to their ways. If you follow the government they will give you freedom but it always comes with conditions. If faith is compromised, faith is no longer pure.”
Pastor Quang has been threatened many times. He knows that gangs are hired by the government to try and kill him. He once evaded a serious situation because of information he received of an imminent attack. “With regards to the Communist Party, I am not frightened by them. My bag is packed with a shirt, towel and toothbrush, and it is always ready if I am to be taken to prison for my faith in Christ. I am ready even if I am to die for God.”
“Christianity should stand up like a lighthouse,” he said. “The only way for Christianity to survive in Vietnam is if every church leader carries the cross. I have been told by the government that they will open the door for me but I must first close the doors of the Bible College. I remind them that the government has an agreement with the International Human Rights Commission that allows me to share the Gospel and train people how to evangelise.”
Please pray for persecuted Christians in Vietnam as they adjust to the new Decree 92 and the harsh restrictions that will affect every believer in their country. Pray for unity in the face of opposition and persecution. Pray for leaders like Pastor Quang to continue serving Jesus faithfully and without compromise.
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