Religious Freedom and Security at the Vietnamese Embassy
At the invitation of the Vietnamese Embassy, Dr. Seiple spoke with 25 staff and family members at the embassy about the American experience with religious freedom and security. In a warm and wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Seiple addressed the roots of American religious freedom by exploring the difference between Massachusetts—where church and state were mixed resulting in the repression of people who did not believe as the state prescribed—and Rhode Island, whose 1663 Colonial Charter specifically declares that the “best and greatest security” results when there is “full liberty in religious concernments.” Furthermore, there were no witch trials or hangings in Rhode Island because people were free to practice their faith and therefore did not agitate against the state and/or cause instability.
In this context, many issues were discussed, including: the non-profit sector in America; the nature of majority-minority relations in state and society; the upcoming American elections; and, the idea that more opportunity for better trained pastors, priests, imams, and monks actually increases stability, attracting investment.
Dr. Seiple will lead a delegation to Vietnam in early December when IGE—in partnership with the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences—will conduct the first-ever “Protestant Roundtable” in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Protestantism in Vietnam next year. Seiple will also take the delegation to Dien Bien Province.