Photo for illustration (Source: tuyengiao.vn)
The law, approved by the National Assembly last November, institutionalizes the 2013 Constitution’s protection of the right to freedom of belief and religion.
Freedom of religion expanded
The new law clarifies protection of the right of citizens to freedom of belief and religion, expands subjects to religious freedom, adds regulations, delegates power for religious management, makes it easier to register religious practices, and shortens the time required to be recognized as a religious organization. Truong Dinh Can, Vice Chairman of the Committee for Catholic Solidarity in Lam Dong province, said: “The law has many new points on ensuring the right of citizens to freedom of belief and religion. It stipulates openness in religious activities and recognizes non-commercial legal entities of religions.”
The law is adjusted towards enabling foreigners in Vietnam to practice their religion. Hoang Thi Hoa, a National Assembly deputy for Bac Giang province, said “The law clearly defines the right to freedom of belief and religion for foreigners who reside legally in Vietnam. It stipulates that foreigners basically have the right to practice religions just as the Vietnamese do and are entitled to study at religious establishments in Vietnam.”
The responsibility of authorized state agencies is clarified by the new law, in addition to legal entities of religious organizations, religious training institutions, registering religious activities, inspecting, and dealing with violations.
Turning point of religious policy
Religious dignitaries said the 2018 Law on Belief and Religion meets the needs of religious followers. Most Venerable Thich Hue Minh, head of the Tien Giang provincial Buddhist Sangha’s Executive Committee, said “The State respects people’s beliefs and religions. Religious followers should follow the Constitution and law, honor their responsibility to safeguard the country, and uphold their belief and patriotism. I think all religious congregations follow these guidelines because national independence was gained at the cost of people’s lives.”
The Law on Belief and Religion reinforces the guidelines and policies of the Party and State on freedom of belief and freedom, fights religious abuse, and shows Vietnam’s responsibility for enforcing international law on human rights./.