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ICC Note: Vietnam is a country at a crossroads.  Pray that Vietnam’s leaders will recognize that freedom of religion and national economic progress are not contradictory, and that allowing Vietnam’s Christians to live out their faith without persecution will strengthen, not undermine, the country.

By Julie Oosterhouse

05/12/2015 Vietnam (Mission Network News)

Tim Muret of Open Doors USA Open Door says Vietnam is trying to keep the focus on the one common interest of every country: money. They’re emphasizing their growing economy.  “That’s sort of the message the government pushes out there, that the quality of living is on the rise, people are coming out of poverty, there’s a strong workforce,” says Muret. While this may be true, it is only getting at one aspect of the country’s development. The issue of freedom of religion is discussed, but only vaguely.

Persecution in Vietnam

It’s complicated, to be sure. Vietnam wants to promote religious freedoms because the world sees that as progressive; they’ve even been making contact with the Catholic Church in an attempt to improve relationships. But persecution is still very real.

Vietnam is #16 on the Open Door’s World Watch List. The main religion is Buddhism, but the source of persecution is communist oppression, not religious tension. Open Doors says last year, persecution against Christians noticeably increased. Churches and Christian homes were destroyed, and more than 10 Christians were sent to jail. World Watch Monitor cites several instances of violence and restriction against Christians. Open Doors witnesses these struggles as they work with Christians up close and personal on the ground.

“What we’re seeing first-hand is that if you’re a Christian Church, you have to register with the government–simple things like that,” Muret observes. But it’s not that simple. To register your church, all the members’ names and addresses have to be reported. Heavy surveillance is only the beginning.

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