Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, February 22, 2008

Economic incentives for increased freedom of religion in Viet Nam

In an effort to develop its economy, Viet Nam is loosening some of its constraints on religion, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

According to the article, Viet Nam “is trying to foster the U.S. as a major trading partner as it transforms its centrally planned economy into a free-trading one dependent on exports and foreign investment.” In an attempt to diffuse tension with the United States it has, therefore, been bowing to pressure to allow greater religious freedom

The government has made efforts to improve relations with Catholic leaders, and has allowed the development of Caodaism, a new religion that attempts to fuse the best of Eastern and Western traditions.

Yet the tolerance of the government still only goes so far. “There’s a greater degree of openness on the surface, but there’s still a lot happening which isn’t visible,” said the Rev. Le Trong Cung, a Roman Catholic priest in Hanoi.

“More religious freedom hasn’t translated into further political rights or any broader freedom of expression for Vietnam’s people,” the article says. “The government frequently clamps down on any trace of dissent. A number of Protestant groups, particularly those active among tribal communities in the remote central highlands, are banned, as are some fringe Buddhist groups.”

For the full article, click here.


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