The Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) hosted two Vietnamese delegations visiting the U.S. for a religious freedom exchange. The delegations included IGE’s key government partner, the Vietnam-USA Society, as well as a “Religion and Rule of Law” delegation of scholars and public security personnel.

On 27 September 2012, at the end of the gathering of the “International Religious Freedom (IRF) roundtable,” 50 religious freedom and human rights professionals representing U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government organizations met with the Vietnam-USA society (VUS) delegation. During the meeting, VUS shared their thoughts on the Vietnamese perspective regarding religious freedom and addressed questions from the meeting participants. Questions at the meeting included: issues on land disputes; the Vietnamese government’s future policy and laws to protect citizens of faith and no faith; how religious groups contribute to civil society; and, the current status of religious group registrations at the local level. Two staff members from the Vietnamese embassy, Washington, DC, attended the meeting as well.

From 6-15 October 2012, IGE, in partnership with Brigham Young University, hosted an academic exchange tour for a four-person delegation of university scholars and public security personnel from Vietnam. The delegation was led by Professor Do Quang Hung, a prominent scholar on religion and rule of law in Vietnam and head of the International Politics Department, Faculty of Political Science at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi. During the trip the delegation attended three conferences in Provo, Utah and Washington, DC on religion and rule of law. The delegation made two presentations on Vietnam’s religion policy during the conferences.

Also during the trip, the delegation gained first-hand experience with two religious minority groups in the United States: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in Provo, Utah, and the Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Vietnamese delegates learned about the freedom these two religious minorities have today and how these faith groups contribute to their community and country. The delegation also heard from district officials and faith leaders on cooperation between the government and religious minorities at the national and local level to ensure faith practices are legally and socially accepted. In addition, the delegation visited Protestant churches and learned about their diversity of faith practices and involvement in charities.

At the end of the visit, Professor Do Quang Hung said this trip gave the delegation “A deeper knowledge about religious minorities in a society, how they can contribute to their society, and how to motivate them to do so. We have increased knowledge about law making and how the law allows for the flexible practice at the national and provincial level to bring government and grassroots leaders to work towards common interests.”

From 26 November-5 December, IGE, Brigham Young University, and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities will conduct a ten-day certificate training on religion and rule of law in Hanoi, Vietnam for 50-60 students. The students taking part in this certificate program include: scholars in religious studies and political science, the Vietnamese government’s religious affair officials, policy makers, and religious leaders.