Vietnam Denies Permission for Evangelicals to Hold Bi-annual Clergy Assembly

Congress of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam(S) in 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (ECVN(S) photo)

The government of Vietnam has denied the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) permission to hold its scheduled bi-annual Clergy Assembly, according to the Bureau of Religious Affairs.

After the ECVN(S) announced on Nov. 25 that it was “postponing” the assembly scheduled for Feb. 1-3, 2021 because the government had denied permission, the Bureau of Religious Affairs released a statement the same day confirming its decision and urging the ECVN(S) to meet requirements of Vietnamese law in order to hold the assembly.

Sources told Morning Star News   the government denial is based on the ECVN(S)’s refusal to comply with Article 34 of the 2018 Law on Religion, which requires a national religious body to submit names of its candidates for leadership for government approval in advance of the meeting at which their election would take place.

Besides finding it repugnant that an atheistic government would claim the right to decide who is fit to become a church leader, the ECVN(S) argues that Article 34 is contrary to its government-approved 2001 constitution and contrary to a century of practice. The church body unanimously passed a “line-in-the-sand” motion at its 2017 General Assembly that it could not and would not comply with Article 34.

The ECVN(S) had complained that Article 34 was inserted after the last publicly circulated draft of the Law on Religion that went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. During the period for public review before the National Assembly passed the law, Vietnam’s religious leaders, international human rights observers and advocates, as well the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion and Belief, had sounded alarms that the law was highly defective and urged Vietnam to amend it.

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SOURCE: Assist News Service

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