VIETNAM: New Regulations Bring Tighter Restrictions

30 April 2024

Source: Christianity Today, Morning Star News, Government Religious Committee of Vietnam The Voice of the Martyrs Canada

With the release of Decree 95, which took effect on 30 March, Vietnamese governing officials declared that the new regulations they were instituting would ensure freedom of belief for all people within the country, enhancing the responsibilities of individual agencies and organisations. The decree expands on the “Law on Belief and Religion” that was implemented in 2018, which outlines additional policies and procedures regulating religious activities in Vietnam.

In the view of the country’s spiritual leaders, however, the new decree has added regulations that will further restrict religious freedoms. Two of the most significant changes revolve around financial reporting and the rights of local officials to suspend religious activities for unspecified “serious violations”.

The decree requires that all finances and in-kind goods be reported within 20 days of receipt. Yet this rule is impossible to follow for many religious communities since they are often not registered due to the government’s stringent registration criteria. As a result, the requirement to report income, as well as expenditures, may be onerous for many churches throughout the country.

A third of the policies presented in the Decree 95 document focus on suspending religious activities for various violations. Such infractions include “infringing on the morality of our indigenous culture” and “using religion for personal aggrandisement”. The use of such vague terminology could allow local communist authorities to shut down any group considered a threat to the authoritarian government in Vietnam.

For Christians in Vietnam, how the new rules will play out is yet to be seen, as not all religious regulations have been strictly enforced in the past. As one local church leader states, “In Vietnam everything is open; everything is negotiable.” Despite the new regulations, Hien Vu from the Institute for Global Engagement is confident that the country’s pastors and church leaders will remain steadfast and resilient. “They are used to these restrictions,” he explains. “We’ll deal with it when it comes, but we’ll do whatever God calls us to do.”

 

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    Pray that God would grant wisdom to church leaders in Vietnam as they deal with the outcome of the newly implemented regulations.

    Pray that God would continue to uphold and protect the Vietnamese church, sustaining them by His strength and grace as they remain resilient amid opposition.

    Pray also for the outpouring of God's Spirit upon the citizens of this country, leading all those who view Christianity as a threat, to acknowledge their need for repentance and salvation through Christ.

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