Objective perspective needed for discussion on freedom of religion in Vietnam

Thu Hoa
Chia sẻ
(VOVWORLD) -  In a release on December 2, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added Vietnam to a Special Watch List regarding religious freedom despite clear evidence of freedom of religion in Vietnam with Catholic followers nationwide jubilantly celebrating Christmas. The US’s decision was based on inaccurate, unobjective information.

Objective perspective needed for discussion on freedom of religion in Vietnam - ảnh 1Buddha bathing rite is held at Tam Chuc pagoda, Ha Nam province (Photo: danviet.vn) 

Vietnam is a multi-religion country with indigenous religions such as Hoa Hao Buddhism and Caodaism along with imported religions such as Catholicism, Buddhism, and Protestantism. Vietnam now has more than 26.5 million religious followers – 27% of the population – and 43 religious organizations within 16 religions recognized or certified by the State.

There are more than 57,400 religious dignitaries, more than 147,000 religious assistants, and more than 29,600 places of worship. Buddhism has the highest number of followers with more than 15 million.  Catholicism has 7.1 million followers.

Objective perspective needed for discussion on freedom of religion in Vietnam - ảnh 2President Nguyen Xuan Phuc extends greetings to Hanoi Archdiocese on 2022 Christmas (Photo: Thong Nhat/VNA)

Diverse, exciting religious activities

Exciting and diverse religious activities take place nationwide, especially in Hanoi, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Tay Ninh, and Can Tho, and many of them have become community cultural activities drawing a large number of people. Major religious celebrations and festivals are held more solemnly, on a larger scale attracting a growing number of followers. Festivals such as Buddha's Birthday, Christmas, celebrations of Caodaism, Hoa Hao Buddhism, and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan are held in a solemn, orderly manner.

Many religious festivals are now celebrated by people nationwide, such as Christmas, the La Vang festival, and Vesak Day, which has been officially recognized by the UNESCO as one of the world's religious festivals.

Some other festivals like the Requiem for Martyrs organized by the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha in 2005, the 27th La Vang Pilgrimage Congress organized by the Vietnam Bishops' Conference in 2005, and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam Protestant Church (North) in 2005 received great public attention.

Vietnamese Party, State respect freedom of religion and belief

In recent years, religious activities in Vietnam have increased and become more exciting. Activities, rituals, and ceremonies held at religious festivals show that they are not just for religious followers but also draw non-religious people who are eager to participate.

Previously, religious ceremonies and festivals were celebrated only by religious dignitaries and followers but now the wider community has engaged in celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, Buddha's birthday, the Vu Lan ceremony of Buddhism, and the Dieu Tri Palace Festival of the Tay Ninh Cao Dai Church.

Christmas is among 8,000 religious festivals celebrated annually in Vietnam. All these facts show that the Vietnamese Party and State have created all possible conditions for people to exercise their religions and beliefs. The diversity of religious activities evidences the guarantee of freedom of belief and religion in Vietnam. Activities of Catholics and other religions are increasing, with the government paying attention to ensuring people’s spiritual life.

The US’ decision to put Vietnam on a Special Watch List regarding religious freedom, despite the fact that Catholic followers in Vietnam, from the north to the south, are eagerly celebrating Christmas, is an inaccurate, unobjective assessment of freedom of religion and belief in Vietnam.

Vietnam pursues a consistent policy of respecting and guaranteeing human rights as well as the freedom of belief and religion. This is enshrined in the 2013 Constitution and Vietnam's legal system and guaranteed to be respected in practice.

Vietnam's efforts and achievements in ensuring freedom of belief and religion for its people have been widely recognized by the international community. The US Department of State needs to be more realistic and objective when assessing Vietnam’s achievements of freedom of belief and religion.