World News

Government tightens control over churches in Vietnam

It is already hard to register and operate a church in Vietnam, but with the new regulations, it has become even harder. The regulation could lead to increased government control over churches and further decrease religious freedom in the country. 

The Vietnamese government announced Decree 95 in December 2023. Now it is in effect and has raised even more concerns among Christians in the country. It expands a previous decree, Decree 162, giving more control to the government over the churches.

According to the Vietnamese government, Decree 95 is meant to increase financial transparency, but many Christian officials raised concerns about it. They say that the government would gain even more insight and control over churches.

Vietnam is on the watch list of Open Doors, ranking as the 35th most difficult country to live in as a Christian. Many churches struggle to register, constantly being rejected or waiting for years. Although Christians in bigger cities can practice their faith in relative safety, many Christians belonging to ethnic groups or living in rural areas are frequently harassed and discriminated against.

Adding to these struggles, Decree 95 makes their lives even more difficult. According to the regulation, churches are obliged to submit financial records, and the government has the power to suspend their activities for a wide variety of reasons. It also extends the number of government officials who can order the suspension of religious activities, including the minor units of local governments.

The new regulations would greatly affect the work of rural churches and those who are not able to register. Given that the churches rely on mainly foreign funding, any matter deemed as being irregular would see their activities suspended. 

A Vietnamese pastor said that despite the new regulations, the pastors and churches in Vietnam will be resilient and face whatever comes.

Source: Christianity Today

Leave a reply