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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #19

VIETNAM

 

Country rank

19

Persecution score

72.16

Last year’s rank

21

Region

Asia

Persecution Type

Communist and post-Communist oppression (Very strong), Clan oppression (Medium), Dictatorial paranoia (Medium), Organized corruption and crime (Medium)

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

98,360,000

Christians

8,924,000 (9.1%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Buddhism

Government

Communist State

Leader

President Nguyen Phu Trong

 Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Vietnam through:

• Bible distribution, and Christian literature translation and distribution
• Biblical training
• Equipping children, youth, and women
• Socio-economic development
• Emergency aid relief

ABOUT VIETNAM

What does persecution look like in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, the level of persecution a believer faces depends on their denomination or background. Historical Christian communities like Roman Catholics enjoy a certain amount of freedom, although they may be imprisoned if they become politically active. Large plots of land owned by Catholic churches (for example, surrounding schools or convents) are sometimes confiscated by the state for development purposes. 

The most intense persecution is reserved for non-traditional Protestants and converts from indigenous religions, especially in the remote areas of central and northern Vietnam. The majority belong to the country’s ethnic minorities, like the Hmong, and face social exclusion, discrimination and attacks. 

Homes are sometimes destroyed, forcing Christians to leave their villages. In several cases, Christians fled abroad and claimed asylum (for example, in neighboring Cambodia), only to be sent back due to Vietnamese pressure.

How women experience persecution

Despite 71 percent of women being in employment, gender inequality is still prevalent in Vietnam. Among Christian women there is fear, as they encounter different forms of pressure and violence. 

Some Christian women, especially converts and those in tribal cultures, are forced by their families to marry non-Christians. According to youth leaders, many young converts then stop attending church. Within marriage itself, women face oppression and threats of divorce from their husbands.

Women and girls are also more vulnerable to sexual abuse given their lower standing in society compared to men. This is especially the case when in police custody and in rural areas, where many Christians live.  

How men experience persecution

Christian men can face harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of their faith, and even lose their job. Given that men are the primary breadwinners for families, losing a job can paralyze a family economically and weaken their standing in society. If the men are church leaders, being without work can weaken a congregation and even lead to its closure.

Men are also targets for arrest and abduction, causing many to flee their villages. Once in custody, they are harshly treated, including beatings, and face pressure to renounce their faith. One believer was reportedly poisoned by the police before being physically beaten. His family, on visiting him, found him chained to a hospital bed. 

 What has changed this year?

Pressure on Christians has increased in almost every area of life. The new regulations on religion, implemented from Jan. 1, 2018 onwards, have added another source of uncertainty (although on paper they looked like an improvement). Tighter regulations on online communication have restricted and limited the space Christians enjoy even further. Pressure and violence against Christians belonging to ethnic minority groups continue unchanged. 

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

There is pressure on all Christians, particularly in light of strong communist rhetoric. Outspoken Christians can be arrested, and believers are often viewed with suspicion. Converts and Protestants in rural areas tend to encounter the most acute persecution; they could face harassment, discrimination, social exclusion and attack because of their decision to follow Jesus. 

How can I help Christians in Vietnam?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Vietnam?

Through local church partners, Open Doors supports Vietnamese believers by providing Christian literature, leadership and discipleship training, socio-economic development projects, advocacy and relief aid. 

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Vietnam, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.

Pray

– Pray that the suspicion aimed towards Christians by national and local authorities will ease, and be replaced with an appreciation of their value to society. – Ask that believers under pressure to renounce their faith will have the strength to cling to Jesus; may this stance powerfully speak to their neighbors and communities. – Pray that young Christians will grow in their love of Jesus, their understanding of the gospel and appreciation for the Bible, giving them a foundation for life. 

A PRAYER FOR VIETNAM

Heavenly Father, keep Your children in Vietnam safe, provide for all their needs, and open up opportunities to fellowship with other Christians. Help believers to stand firm in their faith despite often tremendous pressure, and use their witness to inspire others to give their lives to Jesus. Work in the hearts of local leaders, that their hearts will soften towards Christians and will influence the way others treat Christians. Amen.