Some 33 Vietnamese Christians have been detained for refusing to worship the Buddha. The group, who are part of the much-persecuted Hmong community, were arrested as they made their way to a local house for worship.
Police swiftly brought the faithful individuals to trial, during which they were paraded before the local people in an effort to humiliate and expose them as apostates. But the despicable treatment didn’t stop there. Over the course of the sham trial, prosecutors presented pictures of Buddha and demanded that the Christians worship him instead of their God.
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“Mr. Dzung, the representative of the Interdisciplinary Inspection Team, announced that in Vietnam there is no Protestant religion, and if one does not renounce Protestantism and convert to Buddhism, they will be expelled from Vietnam.”
Four of the arrested Christians were reportedly beaten, with government officials haranguing the community constantly. Over November and December last year, the authorities conducted several raids at the homes of those thought to be part of the group.
The Hmong community comprises some one million people, with around 300,000 of them believing in Jesus and planting churches across the nation. Their ministry progress, however, has not gone unnoticed. The government continues to wage a vicious campaign of oppression and control over the faith group.
“Due to its ethnic background and high percentage of practicing Christians, Vietnam’s Hmong community is often targeted and harassed by both the government and neighboring communities,” wrote ICC’s Regional Manager Gina Goh. “In a Communist country where Christianity is often seen as unpatriotic or a threat to the regime, Hmong Christians constantly face discrimination, harassment, land grabs, torture, and imprisonment.”
Christian persecution watchdog, Open Doors, noted that Vietnamese Christians are targeted because they are seen as “traitors of their culture and identity.”
“They face harassment, violent attacks and social exclusion,” the charity noted in a fact sheet on persecution in the Asian country. “Villagers collude with local Communist authorities, beating believers, kicking them out of their villages and stoning places of worship during meetings. Non-Christian relatives cut family ties and deny inheritance. Christian bloggers and political activists have been arrested and sentenced.”
Open Doors also provided three crucial prayer points for those suffering at the hands of the Vietnamese ruling authorities:
• That God will build up the faith of new believers
from ethnic minorities, like the Hmong
• That the light of Christ will shine through those
who are being pressured to return to their family’s
• That the Holy Spirit will move government leaders
to loosen restrictions on the Christian minority
In neighboring China, authorities continue to crackdown on Christian ministry activities. The government is now reportedly demanding “church-free zones” near schools and requiring places of worship to hand over names of their youth members.
According to Bitter Winter, an online magazine covering religious freedom and human rights in China, the discriminatory document — “Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites” — was issued by the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs in a city in the Shanxi Province.
This latest religious crackdown comes just weeks after the Chinese government detained a prominent Christian pastor, Wang Yi, who helms a church in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.
Prior to his arrest, Wang penned a powerful letter about civil disobedience. The lengthy memo was released just days after he was arrested by Chinese authorities. In it, the minister said he “respect[s] the authorities God has established in China” and “submit[s] to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.”
Wang has not yet been released.