Vietnam is establishing new rules for religion, and they may
help the government to further undermine religious worship and
expression. What is being called "Decree 92" will go into effect
Todd Nettleton of Voice of the
Martyrs says some Buddhist and Christian leaders believe their
rights will deteriorate because Vietnam intends to pattern itself
after the Chinese model.
"Now we know that China is a huge persecutor of Christians,"
explains Nettleton. "They do not allow religious freedom. They want
all of the churches to register with the government and come under
government control -- so that's obviously a concern for Christians
Compliance by underground churches could, however, prove
disastrous, explains Nettleton.
"One of the things that this law supposedly provides is a way
for all religious organizations to register with the government --
register their activities, register their places of worship,
register the leaders who are in charge of those groups," he
"But that obviously presents the possibility that they could be
further persecuted because the government will know exactly who
they are and what they're doing and where they are meeting."
In order to be recognized by the Vietnam government, a religious
group has to prove that it has operated for the past 20 years
without violating the law. By definition, underground churches have
been violating the law -- so they would not qualify for
Vietnam has made some recognizable improvements in terms of
religious freedom in the past decade, so Nettleton finds it
difficult to understand the motivation behind the new rules.