Religious freedom in Vietnam is in question.

By March 16, 2005

Vietnam (MNN)–There appears to be a response to the US Department of State’s calling Vietnam ‘a country of particular concern.’

New regulations allowing for more religious freedom look very promising on paper, but Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says, “The real question is, okay, when this is put in place what is this really going to mean? Is it going to mean more freedom for the Church in Vietnam or is it simply window-dressing, the government trying to appease international human rights watchers?”

Church leaders are taking the position of ‘wait and see.’ That’s because police raided the Ho Chi Minh City headquarters of the Mennonite Church of Vietnam on February 27th. According to a report from Compass Direct, 19 worshippers were arrested and questioned. A second raid on the church occurred on March 8th, during a special women’s meeting.

The significance of these raids is they come shortly after the Prime Minister released a policy document called “Instructions Concerning the Protestant Religion.” What concerns believers is the fact that the instructions are vague and open to interpretation by local government officials and the public security force.

Still, with international pressure growing for disciplinary measures against the country for religious rights violations, things could change for the better.

Nettleton hopes this may be a true turning point in Vietnam, but he says prayer is key. “I think first, obviously, we need to pray for the Christians in Vietnam, those who are suffering. There have been raids on church meetings, even in the last couple of weeks. So we need to be praying for the believers who are there, that they will remain faithful, that they will remain active, and that there will be fruit for their ministry activities.”

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