Sunday, February 06, 2005

New directive for Protestant Christians in Highlands

Prime Minister Pham Van Khai issued a directive on Friday (Feb. 3) stating that Vietnam will now allow Protestant "house churches" in the Central Highlands to operate if they renounce FULRO (United Front for Liberation of Oppressed Races), an organization of Montagnards which fought alongside American troops during the war years:

"If the religious followers there have pure religious needs, commit to abiding by the law, do not work for the reactionary FULRO, and have no connection to Dega Protestantism, the local governments will create conditions for them to carry out normal religious activities at home or at suitable places in their villages,'' said the decree.

The ruling also calls for "public denunciation of those disguised Protestants whose activities go against the nation and sow division among the people as well as their illegal activities. Illegal missionaries should be strictly punished in accordance with the law," said Voice of Vietnam. It added:

"The Prime Minister also signed a decision to recognise a new regulation and leadership of the Vietnam Protestant Church (northern region)’s Executive Council (the 2004-08 tenure). The regulation was adopted, and the leadership elected at the 32nd Congress of the Church's General Council in Hanoi on Dec. 1-2, 2004. The new regulation has 76 articles in 10 chapters, ruling the goals, guidelines and institutional structure of the Church. The new council comprises 13 clerics with Father Phung Quang Huyen as Chairman."

(Associated Press, Feb. 5; Voice of Vietnam, Feb. 5; VNA Feb. 4, Christian Today, Feb. 5).


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