Top Left: IGE met with Mr. Nguyen Chi Dung, Director of the North America Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Top Right & Bottom Left: IGE and the Institute for Religious and Belief Studies at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics co-conducted a roundtable on religion and social organizations. The workshop provided a forum for Vietnamese policy advisors and scholars to discuss the need for religious groups to make positive contributions to society. The participants recognized that religion as a key element to the development of civil society. Presentations were made by IGE’s Executive Director James Chen and CWFL Fellow, U.S. Navy Chaplain Judy Malana.

Bottom Right: IGE met with its gateway partner, the Vietnam-USA Society (VUS), to review its partnership over the last year and discuss continued collaboration to work on religious freedom and peacebuilding programs. Over the past eleven years through this partnership, IGE has signed six agreements with seven key partners, conducting 40 religious freedom and peacebuilding programs for over 3,700 people from 40 provinces. James Chen, IGE’s Executive Director and Mr. Bui Van Nghi, the Secretary General of VUS, both agreed the partnership has also contributed greatly to people-to-people relations between the United States and Vietnam. The two organizations will look into extending their five-year Memorandum of Understanding to continue practical projects on religious freedom in Vietnam from 2017-2022.

The Governmental Committee for Religious Affairs (CRA) and IGE discussed potential partnership on providing training on policies making and positive role of religion in the society in rural areas of the countries.

A consultative workshop on Vietnam’s draft law on religion was held at the Vietnamese National Assembly. The workshop was co-conducted by the Vietnamese National Assembly’s Institute for Legislative Studies (ILS), the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University (ICLRS). This workshop brought together foreign and Vietnamese experts to discuss and debate on the 9th version of Vietnam’s draft Law of belief and religion. IGE Program Officer Hien Vu shared photos from IGE’s time at the National Assembly and said, “It is a privilege to be a part of this consultative workshop on draft law on religion where there are significant changes being made…”

IGE with our academic partners Brigham Young University and Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities kicked off the 8th Religion and Rule of Law (R&ROL) conference in Hanoi!. The conference focused on the development of religion and the rule of law in Vietnam and the ASEAN community. Our Vietnam Program Officer shared, “I look forward to candid discussion about good governance and religion. The conference is just at the right time as Vietnamese policy makers and National Assembly are working on the country’s draft law on religion.”

IGE met with U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius to exchange notes on religious freedom and IGE’s programs in Vietnam.

Prior to the 5th Religion & Rule of Law (RROL) certificate training program, IGE and our partners visited the rural areas of Sa Pa to meet with ethnic minority groups. Our Vietnam Program Officer shared photos from the visit as well as the significance of Sa Pa and the Lao Cai province: “Lao Cai is a good province to start the first provincial RROL cert program as it is comprised of 50% ethnic minorities with diverse religion and beliefs in the whole Vietnam. It is a place where the people demonstrate how to live with diversity and differences. IGE, foreign scholars, and participants of the R&ROL program had the opportunity to experience enchanting Sa Pa, the most famous town of the Lao Cai province for its rich culture, contrast of modern and rural life, various spiritual rituals, and beautiful landscape.”

Top: IGE visited a Catholic church in Lao Cai province. A church building is under construction. Lao Cai’s Catholics needs 18 churches for its population. Currently there are only 8 churches and the Catholic’s expect 10 more churches to be built in the future.

Bottom Middle: IGE met with the Hanoi Evangelical Church (HEC) to congratulate them on their 100th year anniversary in October. Pastor Bui Quoc Phong shared about Christians’ religious practices in the church and public life. According to Pastor Phong, a recent highlight of church and state relations is the growth of mutual understanding, dialogues, and activities including cultural performances and sports events between the HEC, other churches, and the Public Security Department of Hanoi.

Bottom Right: IGE also met with the Lao Cai Department of Religious Affairs. During the meeting, IGE learned about the various religious affairs work in the province and how they are proud to be one of the best provinces in the Northwest Highlands with implementing the government’s policies on religion. There is a still a need for training government officials who work on religious affairs at the provincial and district levels. (IGE conducted a five-day certificate training on religion and rule of law for government officials and faith leaders from Northwest Highlands following this meeting).

While in the Northwest Highlands, Lao Cai province, IGE facilitated the fifth R&ROL certificate training program (and the first-ever certificate program of this kind held at the district and provincial level).

This one-week training program addressed good governance and religion for local officials and faith leaders in the Lao Cai province. The R&ROL training series serves the long-term goal of building solid scholarship and consensus around religious freedom for people of all faiths and none in Vietnam.

IGE Program Officer Hien Vu shared, “We had a great opening ceremony and first two sessions of the RROL certificate training this week. The lectures included international human rights and rule of law and religion but contextualizing into the local context. Questions from the participants were brilliant and practical…”