Vietnam’s Evangelical Fellowship responds to new Religion Law.

By September 6, 2004

Vietnam (MNN)–Vietnam’s communist government is introducing a new religious ordinance.

Compass Direct reports that while this law claims to uphold religious freedom, in truth, it will do the exact opposite.

Although portions of the law state that freedom of religious belief is guaranteed by the state and cannot be violated, virtually every one of the 40 articles that follow threaten to do just that.

The focus of complaint comes over the government requirement to register – in some cases, annually – or to seek permission, approval or recognition before carrying out religious activities.

Open Doors’ Carl Moeller says it’s alarming enough that believers are speaking out. “This is in response to a government ordinance that will take effect in November–November 15th. It creates a problem for the church in that it is going officially outlaw all of the churches that are currently unregistered and underground.”

The concern is that the law will also provide a legal basis for local authorities to hinder and persecute the church. Moeller says believers have issued a call to prayer. “This past week, the Vietnamese Evangelical Fellowship has appealed to the world Christian community, through organizations like Open Doors to call the world to prayer on behalf of the evangelical church throughout Vietnam.”

Among Vietnam’s 81.6 million people are eight million Christians, including 1.2 million evangelicals — with an estimated 250,000 Hmong believers. Evangelicals are growing at an annual rate above six percent, according to Operation World.

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