The communist, one-party state in Vietnam views any religion with suspicion, but especially Christianity, perceiving it as “Western”. In some areas Christians are treated well, but in others face arbitrary arrest, brutal police treatment and jail.
The 2018 Law on Belief and Religion requires authorities to protect religious freedom, but bans any religious activity that could “harm social order and/or national unity”. Registration is required for religious groups and activities including preaching, teaching and publishing.
Believers from ethnic minorities – more than half of Vietnamese Christians – experience the worst persecution. The Hmong people (living mainly in the North-west Highlands) are discriminated against in higher education and civil service jobs. Christians are sometimes forced out of villages and farmlands. However, in 2020 plans were announced by a local government in Lam Dong Province to resettle 79 Hmong Christian households who had been evicted from their villages, including providing a road, community centre and clinic. It was also announced that the Christians would be helped to get household registration and national IDs so they could access education and health care.
The Montagnard people, from the Central Highlands, have endured decades of persecution for their Christian faith. Authorities raid or close down house churches and try to force Christians to deny Christ. A 2019 report estimated that 10,000 Montagnards were stateless because local authorities refused to issue ID cards, household registration or birth certificates.
Montagnard Christian Y Ngun Khul was released in March 2020, in poor health and bearing scars from beatings, after almost 16 years in prison. His family lost their home and land and were only able to visit him four times. Pastor A Dao was released in September after four years behind bars. Both had been imprisoned for their calls for religious freedom for the Christian Montagnard community.
Give thanks for the planned resettlement of Hmong Christians and pray that this will be fulfilled. Ask for an end to the persecution of Christians and for greater religious freedom. Pray that Christians will stand firm in the faith and those imprisoned will experience full restoration.
The above content can also be found in the Praying for the Persecuted Church (2021-2022) booklet