A little behind, but as I mentioned a little while back, here’s an English translation of a Vietnamese news article on the third National Baha’i Convention in Can Tho, Vietnam, on May 2, 2010. I’ve added my own explanatory footnotes below. The article is a little off on a few facts, but overall it’s pretty good. This translation should at least give you a good idea of the general state of the Faith in Vietnam, and how it’s viewed by the institutions of society; in my opinion, it also offers an intriguing view of the perspective of modern Vietnam on religion in general. Thanks to Quynh and Google Translate for help with the translation.
On the morning of May 2nd, nearly 300 followers of the Baha’i Community in Vietnam attended the third annual National Convention of the Baha’i Community in Vietnam in Can Tho city.
The convention elected nine members of the religious council of the Baha’is of Vietnam for the 2010-2011 term and set out key tasks, following the motto “Sống tốt đời, đẹp đạo” (“Living well, in one’s life and in one’s faith”), aiming to improve the lives of their brethren and benefit their country, to work effectively and mobilize their numbers to promote unity within the nation and solidarity with other religions.
Speaking at the conference, Mr. Đặng Tài Tính, Director of International Cooperation for the National Committee for Religious Department, stressed that the Government of Vietnam always implements a consistent policy to respect and ensure the freedom of belief and religion of the people, but that the people also have to comply with Vietnamese laws.
The charter of the Baha’i Community in Vietnam confirms in its principles and objectives that “activities shall be held in compliance with the laws of Vietnam, and shall uphold the spirit of harmony and unity of the nation and of religion, for the socio-economic development of the country…”, a crucial principle which serves to orient believers and grassroots organizations following the doctrine and laws of the Baha’i religion and the laws of Vietnam.
At the meeting, representatives of the Board of Counsellors for Asia stated their appreciation to the Government of Vietnam’s facilitation for its help in facilitating the implementation of the activities of the Baha’i Community in Vietnam.
Mr. Nguyen Thuc, head of the interim board of representatives of the Baha’i (religious) Community of Vietnam, said that since the recognition of its legal status, the entire community has entered a period of development and has achieved outstanding large-scale growth in individual religious practice, religious education, Holy day gatherings, the formation of committees and work groups and other administrative functioning.
In whichever locality Baha’i believers live and practice their religion, they largely have good relationships with government at all levels, allowing their activities to flourish in accordance with the Government’s policies on belief and religion and the provisions of law.
The Baha’i Faith came to Vietnam in 1954. The Baha’i religious community in Vietnam has almost 7,000 followers, faith activities in 43 provinces and cities, mainly concentrated in the central and southern regions.
The Baha’i community of Vietnam officially obtained its Certificate of Operation Registration with the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs on February 28th, 2007.
After nearly a year of operation, in July 2008, the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs decided to recognize the religious organizations of the Baha’i religious community of Vietnam.
Up to now, the Baha’i Community of Vietnam has nearly 80 representatives of the Provisional Committee in the local level.
The article mentions the rule of law many times over. I didn’t see the point of this until I started to read up on the history of religious groups in Vietnam, most of which seem to have had the unfortunate historical tendency to not only quarrel amongst themselves but try to overthrow governments. Some religious communities still display these tendencies, hence the constant reminders in modern government speech. Baha’is, though, are already enjoined by the core teachings of their Faith to show obedience and loyalty to their government, as the next paragraph states—a fact which apparently inspires some shock and awe in Vietnamese officials.
The term “Baha’i Community” is rendered consistently as “Baha’i religious community” in the original Vietnamese, but I’ve translated it as simply “Baha’i Community” for English readability.
1: The Continental Board of Counsellors, a high-level, non-clerical institution, purely advisory in character, with counterparts throughout the world; rendered as “Continental Advisory Committee” in the Vietnamese text.
2: The term translated here as “board of representatives” refers to the National Spiritual Assembly, a national body elected by the believers in a country to oversee the administrative affairs and spiritual health of the community.
3: I’m not really sure how this should be translated, but basically it’s a cerficate that shows they are officially registered as a religious community with the Government, and they are authorized to operate and conduct activities as such.