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Vietnam government legalizes Pentecostal chuch

ICC Note:

A ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday awarded official recognition to the Assemblies of God branch of the Pentecostal church – previously considered an illegal Christian denomination.

10/20/09 Vietnam (EarthTimes) The Vietnamese government has granted recognition to the Assemblies of God after considering it an illegal Christian denomination for 20 years, a government official said Tuesday. The Vietnamese branch of the world’s largest Pentecostal church was awarded official recognition by the Vietnamese government’s Committee for Religious Affairs at a ceremony Monday in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Before the recognition it was an illegal religious organization, and we had warned them for their violations,” said Huynh Ngoc Thanh, director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs.

Under Vietnam’s Law on Religion, passed in 2007, all denominations are required to apply to the Committee on Religious Affairs to obtain legal recognition. Without such recognition they may have trouble building churches or organizing religious gatherings.

The official Vietnam News quoted Assemblies of God of Vietnam official Duong Thanh Lam as saying that since its inception in 1989, the church had followed the precepts of “serving God, the Motherland and the nation.”

The Assemblies of God of Vietnam have been active in Vietnam since 1989, with over 40,000 members across the country. The church is the largest Pentecostal Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 60 million followers.

The Catholic church is the country’s largest Christian denomination, with over 6 million adherents. Over the past year, religious tensions have sharpened, with land disputes between the government and the Catholic church and the expulsion from a monastery of 400 monks and nuns who adhered to a non-traditional Western-based Zen school.

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