A community gathering for a Protestant religious ceremony in Sima hamlet 2. (Photo: vietnamnet.vn)
Every Sunday morning, Protestants in Sima hamlet 2 in Chung Chai commune gather at the community house to listen to lectures about love and respect God, love for each other, and resistance to incitements to do wrong.
At these gatherings the villagers also share their experience in doing business and developing a household economy by planting fruit trees, raising cattle, and farming. And they sing hymns.
Enforcement of the 2016 Law on Belief and Religion has made religious practice easier. It now takes a protestant group just 5 years to get an operating license. It used to take 20 years.
Giang Hong Sinh, who is in charge of the missionary work of the Protestant group in Muong Nhe district, which administers Chung Chai commune, says, “The State and the Dien Bien provincial Department of Home Affairs have provided strong support for religious activities.”
Giang Hong Sinh is in charge of the missionary work of the Protestant group in Sima hamlet 2. (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)
“In the past, religious practice was normally conducted at home. Now religious groups of 30 to 50 households in Chung Chai commune have registered for an operating license. Since 2016 it has taken less time to receive a license. Almost every group now has a license,” Sinh added.
Religious activities such as Christmas, rituals, and religious festivals take place in accordance with the Law on Religion and State and local regulations.
Vu Thi Dinh of the Mong ethnic group told VOV, “My family, the villagers, and I have been attending Protestant ceremonies for 6 years. The local administration has supported religious practice and religious licensing in line with State policy.”
Sima administration has supported open Bible training courses for individuals who want to become pastors and teach the Bible.
Migrants have also been supported by the local government in practicing their religion. Giang A Thu said, “I was born in Sin Ho district in Lai Chau province but migrated to this area in 2007. In 2011 the locals were given household registration books. Each of us has contributed money to build a house of prayer.”
“Over the past 3 years we’ve gathered there every Sunday to practice our religion. It’s very joyful. With such a big house of prayer, our life has become more stable. When we become better off, we’ll build a bigger one,” said Thu.
By 2025, Chung Chai commune intends that every hamlet will have a cultural house for community activities and be connected to the national electricity grid – two of the new-style rural building criteria.
Over the years, Chung Chai has implemented measures to protect human rights and the freedom of religion and belief. Meetings have been held regularly by the local administration to try to understand the thoughts and aspirations of local religious followers.
Po Xe Chu, Secretary of the Chung Chai Communal Party Committee, said, “We respect the freedom of religion and belief of all ethnic groups, but have increased communications to warm people not to be incited to sabotage against the State. Heads of religious groups have been invited to participate in exchanges. Local people are free to do business and contribute to the commune’s development.”
Sima villagers have joined emulation movements, charities, and environmental protection programs to make their village more peaceful, prosperous, and happy.