Vietnam

Vietnam has been reported to have religious freedom harassment. The rapid spread of Christianity in the last two decades, especially among ethnic minorities in the Northwest and Central Highlands, has alarmed Vietnamese government officials. However, Vietnam is a country in transition and seeks strong ties with the U.S. for economic and geopolitical reasons. IGE has positioned itself as a trusted third party working with national leaders (top-down engagement) and the people of Vietnam (bottom-up engagement) to promote a sustainable environment for religious freedom in the country.

TOP-DOWN INFLUENCE

2004-2006: IGE built relationships and signed the first comprehensive agreement between an NGO and the Vietnamese Government (The Vietnam-USA Society) to lay out a roadmap for religious freedom progress in Vietnam and convened the first-ever "Religion and Rule of Law" conference in Hanoi.

2007: Conducted the second "Religion and Rule of Law" conference in Hanoi and met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in Washington, D.C., and Hanoi.

2008:  Arranged for Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to meet with American faith leaders in Washington, D.C., and sponsored a delegation of Vietnamese officials to attend the "Religion and Rule of Law" conference in Beijing.

2009: Convened a "Protestantism in the U.S." study tour for Vietnamese government scholars from the Institute for Religious Studies, the Vietnamese government's only academic think-tank on religion.

2010: Facilitated communication between churches and the government to allow large public Christmas day celebrations; and, had several interviews with Vietnam's global VTV4 station about religious freedom and IGE's work in Vietnam.

2011: Conducted the third "Religion and Rule of Law" conference in Hanoi; met with national leaders; and, VTV4 aired a 45-minute special, "Talk Vietnam," highlighting IGE's engagement in Vietnam and discussing religion in Vietnam's public square.

2012:  Co-conducted the first-ever 10 day certificate training program on Religion and the Rule of Law in Vietnam.

2013: Signed two agreements with Brigham Young University and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi  to futher Vietnam's collaboration to study the implementation of religion and rule of law in Vietnam. Together, IGE and its partners co-conducted the second 10 day certificate training program in Ho Chi Minh City on Religion and Rule of Law in Vietnam. In addition, IGE held seminars to train government authorities on Vietnam's policies on religious freedom in the Northwest Highlands.

2014: Facilitated the 3rd 10 day Religion and Rule of Law Certificate Program in Da Nang City with Brigham Young University, University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, and Da Nang Foreign Language University.

2015: Conducted in partnership with Brigham Young University (BYU) and Vietnam National University’s University of Social Sciences & Humanities (USSH),  a “Religion and the Rule of Law Comparative Studies: Vietnam and the United States” conference in Washington, D.C. In addition,  conducted the 4th 10 day Religion and Rule of Law Certificate Program in Hanoi.

BOTTOM-UP IMPACT

2005: IGE was the first Western NGO to visit the Central Highlands (where churches were bulldozed by military forces in 2002), since Vietnam was placed on the religious freedom violations list (Country of Particular Concern, CPC) by the State Department in 2004.

2006: Affirmed IGE's attention to religious restrictions in rural areas by revisiting the Central and Northwest Highlands to encourage churches.

2007: Invited Protestant pastors from the Central Highlands to observe the second "Religion and Rule of Law" conference in Hanoi; and, IGE delegation visited the Northwest Highlands again.

2008:  Witnessed the 65th anniversary of the Protestant churches in Gia Lai Province (Central Highlands).

2009: Observed the Vietnamese government's training on Vietnam's legal framework for religious freedom in the Northwest Highlands.

2010: Conducted the first-ever "Protestantism Roundtable" that brought government officials and Protestant leaders together to examine the development of Vietnamese Protestant churches from 1911-1975; and, collaborated with the Vietnamese Government on training local authorities and religious leaders on Vietnam's legal framework for religious freedom.

2011: Attended the 100th Anniversary celebrations of the Protestant Church in Danang and Hanoi; convened the second "Protestantism Roundtable" to examine the development of Protestant Churches in Vietnam from 1976-2011; and, collaborated with the Vietnamese government on religious freedom training at the local level.

2012: Conducted with the Evangelical Churches of Northern Vietnam (ECVN-N) the first series of peace-building seminars that contributed to training needs of ECVN-N to equip local leaders with conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

2013: Facilitated a second series of peace-building seminars that continued to equip local leaders with confict resolution and negotiation skills.

2015: In collaboration with CRA, Eastern Mennonite Missions, and faith groups, IGE conducted six workshops training 330 participants on conflict transformation and mediation skills in the north, central, and south regions of Vietnam. Participants were government officials and faith leaders from 6 different faiths including over 66 Protestant churches (registered and unregistered). In addition, IGE and CRA organized two "Religion and Citizenship” (R&C) dialogues in Da Nang city and Quang Ninh province. The R&C dialogues—titled “Religion’s Contribution to the Society”—brought more than 190 government officials and faith leaders from the central and northern provinces of Vietnam together to learn from each other and raise awareness on the positive role religion can play in their community.

For additional information, please contact: Ms. Hien Vu at hvu@globalengage.org or 703.527.3100. For photos of IGE's work in Vietnam, please click here.