By hosting the event from May 12-14, Vietnam shows the world that it respects and protects the freedom of belief and religion as well as non-belief and non-religion of all citizens. A recent report on the religious situation in Vietnam released by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom contains a biased assessment and a lack of goodwill toward Vietnam.
Vietnam is a multi-belief, multi-religion country. 95% of Vietnam’s population hold spiritual beliefs. 27% of the population - 24.3 million people - follow a religion. Vietnam has nearly 190,000 religious dignitaries, 28,000 places of worship, and more than 8,000 annual religious festivals.
Clear stance on belief, religion
Vietnam pursues a consistent policy of respecting and ensuring the right to freedom of religion and belief for all citizens. This is written into Vietnam's Constitution and laws, and is strictly enforced.
The 2016 Law on Belief and Religion stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of belief and religion, to follow or not follow any religion. Everyone has the right to conduct religious practices and attend religious festivals.
The 1992 Constitution says “The citizen shall enjoy freedom of belief and of religion; he can follow any religion or follow none. All religions are equal before the law. The places of worship of all faiths and religions are protected by the law. No one can violate this freedom of belief and of religion; nor can anyone misuse beliefs or religions to contravene the law or State policies.”
Vietnam-a peaceful place to practice religion
The practice of belief or religion is protected. Each year thousands of religious festivals and activities are organized, attracting crowds of people and official recognition from government authorities. The Chol Chnam Thmay New Year festival of the Khmer, which occurs in mid-April, features a variety of religious rituals: a rice offering, a Buddha bathing ceremony, sand pile making, and a requiem. Party, State, government, and Fatherland Front leaders organize activities to congratulate Christians at Christmas.
Vietnam has emerged as a peaceful place for religious practice, this week welcoming more than one thousand of delegates from 112 countries and territories to UN Day of Vesak. Among the participants will be the Vice Secretary General of the UN, Myanmar’s President, Nepal’s Prime Minister, and the Senate Speaker of India.
Vietnam successfully hosted UN Vesak Day in 2008 and 2014 and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.
Vietnam’s laws and policies and its thriving religious communities are vivid proof that the right to freedom of religion and belief is respected and guaranteed in the country.