Christian Families In Vietnam Denied Of Essential Government-Supplied COVID Relief



By Ruth Aguantia

Christianity Daily | 2021-09-01  

Vietnam continued to persecute Christians during the pandemic by denying them of government aid.

In Open Doors' report last year, 18 families of believers were said to have been denied of state support simply because they are Christians.

"You are Christians and your God shall take care of your family! The government is not responsible for your families!" the authorities stated.

The 2020 report of the United States Department of State on religious freedom in the country confirmed this sentiment.

According to Vietnam Baptist Convention, the local authorities in Thanh Hoa Province, Thach Thanh District and Thach Loi Commune have denied their congregants of government financial assistance for COVID, as a way of harassing the church.

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, noted that the pandemic is being weaponized against Christians.

"Some lives are considered unworthy of saving, because of their decision to stand by their faith. Make no mistake: the crisis is being used as a weapon against Christians. We're seen discrimination against Christians in ration distribution, denying Christian health workers access to protective clothing, and opening mosques but keeping churches closed."

Blyth added that Christians are facing a dilemma with the current situation.

"If Christians ignore COVID-19 restrictions, in order to stop their brothers and sisters from starving, they can also alert the authorities of their existence as a community. And that will mean serious persecution for them in months and years to come - it's a terrible dilemma."

Open Doors UK estimates that there are more than 8.9 million Christians in Vietnam. A million of these are Protestants, the State Department said.

The 2020 report revealed that though registered churches were more able to practice their faith, some congregations, such as the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) and United Presbyterian Church have experienced harassment in gathering. But more so with unregistered churches, wherein the government suppressed their religious activities and slowed the process of their registration procedures.

Conflicts between members of unregistered and recognized religious groups were also reported. Religious activists accused the authorities of manipulating the latter in causing disputes to suppress the former's activities.

In other areas of the country, particularly in Central Highlands, authorities are harassing some unregistered Protestant groups for reporting human rights abuses to international organizations. The religious groups were threatened of violence against their members, as well as killing them and the church leaders. The congregants were also forced to recant their faith or join a registered church.

In July 2020, the elders of Evangelical Church of Christ in Buon Ma Thuot City and Good News Mission Church in Cu Kuin District were reportedly threatened of being killed by the authorities in Dak Lak Province after a meeting with diplomats.

Last December, the Bo Ngoong Commune Police harassed the members of a house church in Chu Se District in Gia Lai Province for celebrating Christmas, warning them of being fined or arrested if they continued. The police also confiscated the church's Christmas fund of 300 million dong ($13,000), Bibles and other property.



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