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10 - Christian Responses to Persecution in Communist Vietnam and Laos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2018

Daniel Philpott
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Timothy Samuel Shah
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Summary

Vietnam and Laos, Communist states since the mid-1970’s, have implemented positive departures from Marxist economics but have moved slowly in social liberalization under their one-party systems, especially on religious freedom. Nevertheless the “eradicate” paradigm has ameliorated to “containment” regarding rapidly growing Evangelical Christianity among ethnic minorities. Stories of repression and severe persecution illustrate methods by which these are carried out, as well as show how Christians respond to restrictions and abuse. Official campaigns to force Christian believers to recant were widely employed in Vietnam between 1986 and 2005. Then Vietnam moved to register Christian groups, offering more “freedom” though with intrusive administrative control. Following poor implementation of this approach, Vietnam pledges improvement by implementing a penultimate Law on Belief and Religion in 2018. Catholic and Evangelical leaders fear the new law provides authorities with more tools for control. Developments in Laos are analogous to Vietnam’s evolving legislation. Under overt persecution, restrictive “legal” measures or subtle administrative ones, most Christians have responded bravely by enduring mistreatment as part of their calling. Though some fled harsh persecution, Christians are increasingly self-advocating and engaging authorities. They have remained resilient throughout and their numbers are growing.
Type
Chapter
Information
Under Caesar's Sword
How Christians Respond to Persecution
, pp. 298 - 333
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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