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Official Gazette

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Party policies on belief and religion

Updated: 16:27’ - 26/02/2007

I. Guidelines and policies of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) regarding belief and religion

During its leadership of the revolution as well as since its governing of society and the country, the CPV has paid consistent attention to religion and has adopted policies on belief and religion that have been sound and appropriate for each stage of the revolution.

In 1986, Vietnam began to implement its renewal (doi moi) policy. On October 16, 1990, the Politburo that had been elected from the VIth National Congress of the CPV renovated its policies regarding religion through Resolution No. 24-NQ/TW on strengthening religious affairs in the new situation. On March 12, 2003, after thirteen years of implementing that policy on religion and after summarizing its actual practice and reviewing newly changing issues that had recently emerged in both the domestic and international contexts, the Politburo of the IXth National Congress passed Resolution No. 25-NQ/TW on religious affairs. This became the policy for the Party and the State of Vietnam regarding religion for the renewal period. The ideas of Resolution No. 25 can be summarized as follows:

Religious activities and religious affairs in this new period should: strengthen unity among followers of different religions within the context of great national unity; develop the general strength of all ethnic groups; contribute to successful implementation of the country’s industrialization and modernization; and build and defend the stability of the Homeland.

Belief and religion are spiritual needs of a segment of the population. Those needs currently exist and will continue to co-exist with the nation during the process of building socialism in Vietnam. Followers of different religions are an integral part of Vietnam’s great national unity. There is consistent implementation of the policy to respect and guarantee the people’s right to freedom of belief, the right to follow or not to follow any religion, and the right to take part in normal religious activities according to law. Religious activities must be in accordance with the legal framework. All religions are equal before law.

The Party and the State of Vietnam consistently implement a policy of great national unity. They do not discriminate in treatment on the grounds of belief and religion. They promote the unity of followers of different religions and unity between believers and non-believers. Great national unity with the goal of a prosperous people, a strong nation, and an equitable, democratic, and civilized society draws followers of religions together in a common cause. Each citizen - regardless of belief or religion - has both the right and the responsibility to build and protect the Homeland. The Party and the State encourage the people to uphold their patriotic spirit and determination to protect the independence and unity of the Homeland; through socio­economic policies as well as public security and national defense, ensure material and spiritual needs of the people at large, including followers of religions.

The positive values in the tradition of worshiping ancestors and honoring those who have made great contributions to the nation and the people should be maintained and developed. Discrimination in treatment of citizens on the grounds belief or religion is prohibited. Simultaneously, it is prohibited to take advantage of belief or religion to engage in superstitious activities, in activities that are illegal or contrary to national policy, or in activities that encourage dissidence among the people or between ethnic groups or that disturb public order or encroach upon national security.

Religious affairs are the responsibility of the entire political system. They are related to many spheres of the society, to many levels of the administration and different branches of activity given the fact that the spiritual and material life of tens of millions of followers, religious leaders, and members of religious orders reach across all regions, and localities throughout the country.

Each follower has the right to practice religion at home within the family and at legitimate places of worship as stipulated by law. Religious organizations officially recognized by the State are entitled to conduct lawful activities and are protected by law. These activities include: Opening schools to train religious leaders and members of religious communities; publishing religious documents and books; and maintaining, repairing, and building places of religious worship in accordance with regulations. Those engaged in religious evangelization, along with every other religious activity, must abide by the Constitution and law; it is forbidden to use the cover of religion to promote obscurantist sects or superstition, and it is forbidden to force people to follow a religion or to abandon a religion.

Documents from the Xth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam affirm: “Followers of different religions are an integral part of Vietnam’s great national unity. The Party consistently implements policies of respect and guarantees the people’s right to freedom of belief, the right of citizens to follow or not to follow a religion, and the right to take part in normal religious activities according to the law. The Party promotes unity of followers from different religions and the unity of followers of religion with non-followers. It encourages development of cultural values and strong ethics of religions and encourages religious followers and religious leaders to live ‘For better secular and religious life...’ Lawful religious organizations must abide by law and are protected by law. Socio-economic development programs should be implemented to improve the material and cultural lives of religious followers; training and upgrading of cadres dealing with religious affairs should be enhanced; superstitious activities and behaviors that take advantage of belief and religion in order to harm the common welfare of the country or to violate the citizens’ freedom of religion should be prevented.”

II. Results of implementing the Vietnamese State’s laws and policies on belief and religion

Many significant results have been achieved during the nearly 20 years of implementing the renewal policy on religious affairs. Previously, the State had recognized three religious organizations: the Vietnamese Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Northern Church), the Vietnamese Catholic Church, and the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha. The State has since considered and recognized other religious organizations, including:

- Representative Committee of Muslims of Ho Chi Minh City in 1992.

- Nine Cao Dai Churches during the period from 1995 to 2000.

- Hoa Hao Buddhist Church in 1998.

- Vietnamese General Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Southern Church) in 2001.

-Representative Committee of Muslims of An Giang province in 2004.

Thus, the State has recognized a total of 16 religious organizations emanating from six religions to operate in accordance with the legal framework. In September 2006, some other religious organizations, such as Tu An Hieu Nghia, Tmh do Cu si Phat hoi, and the Missionary Christian Church, were granted certificates for registration of religious activities, and they will soon be recognized as organizations according to the provisions of law.

There has been growth in the training of religious clergy.

The Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha has established three institutes, six colleges, and 31 intermediate training schools, which have trained 5,090 Buddhist monks and nuns. The Vietnamese Catholic Church has six seminaries now training 1,236 Catholic priests. The Institute of Bible and Theology of the Vietnamese General Protestant Church (Southern Region) has organized two training courses for 150 trainees. On August 30th, 2006, the Institute of Bible and Theology started construction for a new base in Ho Chi Minh City... During five years (1999-2004), the Religious Publishing House published 719 publications with 4.2 million copies (more than 500,000 of which were Bibles) at the request of religious individuals and organizations.

In 2005 alone, the Religious Publishing House licensed 450 Bible titles (with more than one million copies) and 60 other titles. During the first six months of 2006, the Religious Publishing House printed 130 religious titles.

Bibles have also been printed in Ba Na, Ede, and Gia Rai ethnic minority languages to facilitate religious practice among followers in these ethnic groups.

The State of Vietnam has carried out many socio­-economic development programs in order to improve the material and spiritual life of the people, especially those living in remote and mountainous areas and ethnic minority people, including those who follow religions. The State also guarantees and creates favorable conditions for religious activities of religious clerics and followers to normalize their activities in many areas.

Such activities as expressing one’s belief and engaging in religious ceremonies, rites, and religious festivals are allowed to be organized on a regular basis. Especially important religious festivals and ceremonies such as Buddha’s Birthday for Buddhists, Christmas and Easter for Catholics and Protestants, ceremonies for the foundation anniversaries of the Cao dai religion and Hoa Hao Buddhism, and Ramadan for Muslims are organized with religious rites and the participation of many followers.

Religious organizations have been active in strengthening their organizations, in nominating, transferring, and appointing clergy and admitting members of religious communities to improve their work in training in accordance with their organizations’ charters and regulations as well as provisions of the law. For example, the Vietnamese Buddhist Church appointed new positions in the professional committees of its National Steering Council and Provincial/City Steering Councils and also established several new Provincial Steering Councils.

The Vietnamese Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Northern Church) organized its Congress for the 2004-2008 term, and the Vietnamese General Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Southern Church) organized its Congress for the 2005-2009 term. Other organizations such as the Cao Dai Verity Church (Hoi Thanh Cao Dai Chon Ly), the Cao Dai Three-Door Temple Gate Church (Hoi Thanh Cao Dai Cau Kho - Tam Quan), and the Cao Dai Missionary Church (Hoi Thanh Truyen Giao Cao Dai) have also organized congresses for their new terms. The Tay Ninh Cao Dai Church organized a mid-term congress to appoint new dignitaries and representatives of the Management Council at the local level. The Hoa Hao Buddhist Congregation also strengthened its local Management Councils during its second congress. Similarly, the An Giang Representative Committee of Muslims was established.

According to statistics, in 2005, 800 ordinations, 605 appointments, and 337 transfers were made across all religious organizations.

The training of religious clergy and members of religious communities has been expanded and intensified. This year, the Intermediate Buddhism Training Center and Buddhist Colleges recruited large numbers of students. Buddhist Institutes have expanded, and the quality of training for monks and nuns has improved. The Vietnamese Buddhist Church is also completing construction of a new Buddhist Institute in Hanoi’s Soc Son district and is preparing to build its Theravada Khmer Buddhist Institute in Can Tho City as well as a new center for the Ho Chi Minh Buddhist Institute. The Catholic Association’s seminaries have increased the number of classes and seminarians each year. The Jesus Christ Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City has opened a second branch in Xuan Loc district, Dong Nai province. Now in its second year, the Institute of Bible and Theology of the Vietnamese General Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Southern Church) doubled the number of its entry-level students compared with its first year. The Steering Committee of the Vietnamese General Confederation of Evangelical Churches has also organized training courses on religious doctrine for pastors, newly appointed pastors, and preaching pastors who are ethnic minority people in provinces of the Central Highlands. The Steering Committee has also ordained senior religious clerics in provinces of that area.

Cao Dai and Hoa Hao Buddhists have organized classes in religious doctrine for many participants. The Representative Committee of Muslims in Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang province have supported their followers to visit the Mecca and to take part in Koran-reading ceremonies organized overseas.

In 2005, the number of graduates from religious schools and training courses of all denominations was 6,963, while the number of newly recruited participants was 5,584, and the number of on-going religious trainees was 4,563.

Bibles, religious books, and religious documents have been regularly published, thereby meeting the demand for religious activities. Magazines and newspapers published by religious organizations currently include: Nghien cuu Phat hoc (Buddhist Studies Magazine) and Giac Ngo (Enlightenment Newspaper) by the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha; Hiep Thong, Nguoi Cong giao Viet Nam (The Vietnamese Catholic Newspaper), and C6ng gido va Dan toc (Catholicism and the Nation) by the Catholic Church; Huong Sen (Fragrant lotus Magazine) by the Hoa Hao Buddhist Congregation; and Muc Vu (Serving Pastors Bulletin) and Thong Cong (Spiritual Communion Bulletin) by the Vietnamese General Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Southern Church).

Local governments have facilitated the upgrading, restoration, and new construction of places of religious worship as stipulated by law. As a result, many pagodas, churches, monasteries, and mosques were upgraded or built during the past year. In particular, branches of the Confederation of Evangelical Churches (Southern Church) in the Central Highlands have received land for churches, while others are under consideration for land allotment. In 2005, 242 places of worship were built, while 320 others were repaired or upgraded.

Along with recognized religious organizations, some other religious associations that have recently formed or have recently arrived in Vietnam have been permitted to conduct regular religious activities in places of worship or in assembly points. The Government Committee for Religious Affairs is collaborating with local authorities on guidelines for these new Protestant denominations and other religions that are in the process of registering their activities so that they can be recognized in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance on Belief and Religion, which was promulgated on June 29, 2004, and took effect on November 15, 2004.

Two years after the promulgation of the Ordinance on Belief and Religion , especially after the Prime Minister issued Directive No. 01/2005/CT-TTg on some tasks related to Protestantism on February 4, 2005, religious activities of Protestant followers in the Central Highlands have received due attention and their rights have been guaranteed according to provisions of the law. As a result, 718 religious groups have registered, and 67 religious chapters have been recognized and are engaged in regular activities. Also, 71 pastors and newly appointed pastors have been recognized. Some religious chapters have built places of worship.

In the Northern Highlands of Vietnam, local administrations have created favorable conditions for Protestants to practice their religion at home and have developed guidelines for religious assembly groups to register their activities with local authorities. Until now, the first step has been implemented with registration of religious activities for Protestant followers belonging to 27 assembly groups in nine provinces, all with good results. This is a necessary step to avoid possible contradictions and complications in families and clans that might negatively affect the stable life of ordinary people. Results secured in the provinces mentioned above and in other highland localities of northern Vietnam have guided and will continue to guide religious people and assembly groups to register their religious activities in accordance with the Prime Minister’s directive.-

Note:

* Excerpts from the book Religion and policies regarding religion in Vietnam, published by the Government Committee for Religious Affairs in January 2007.

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