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Sixty-five-year development the state governance on religion (1955-2020)
Government Decree No 566-TTg on the establishment of the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Government Office

On August 2, 1955, upon request by the Interior Department under the Government Office and approval by the Government Council, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued the Decree No 566-TTg on the establishment of the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Government Office – the first body of Vietnam’s current Government Committee for Religious Affairs, and the system of regional and provincial religious committees regarded as the initial system of the current state governance sector on religion.

Thus, in May 2005, the Prime Minister approved for the state governance sector on religion to take the 2nd of August as its Traditional Day, recoganizing the position and role of the state governance on religion in the system of the state administration sectors.

Through different stages with different names given in the history of sixty-five years, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs and the state governance sector on religion has strived to successfully fulfill tasks of developing policies and laws on religion and belief, and implementing and undertakings, policies and laws on belief and religion approved by the Vietnam Party and State in the cause of national struggle for independence earlier and national construction and defense recently. 

 Order No 234/SL dated June 14, 1955 by President Hồ Chí Minh on religious affairs

In the early stage, the central Committee for Religious Affairs worked out proposals for well implementing the Order No 234/SL dated June 14, 1955 by President Hồ Chí Minh on religious affairs, contributing to guarantee the right to religious practices of religious people and create stability and national unity regardless of religious backgrounds.

In this period, the state religious affairs had encouraged religious followers to proactively participate in the cause of the national construction in the North, and the struggle against US-backed Sai Gon regime in the South for the implementation of the Geneva Agreement, especially the fight against a plot to coerce Catholic countrymen into migrating to the South.

After 1975, the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs drafted and submitted to the Prime Minister the proposal for the issuance of Resolution 297/CP dated November 11, 1977 on “Some policies on religion”. At the same time, the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs provided guidance for several religious organizations to strengthen their unified organizations and build religious charters and action orientations for “Better secular and religious life”, close attachment to the nation, etc. As the results, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam released Pastoral Letter at the first conference of Vietnam Bishops in 1980; the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha was founded in 1981 at the conference for unifification of Vietnam Buddhism, etc.

 At the conference for unification of Vietnam Buddhism in 1981

From 1990s to presence, as the country entered a comprehensive phase of innovation in all social, cultural, economic… fields, the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs carried out its function of advising the Party and State on the religious policies, which resulted in the issuance of the Party’s Resolution No 24 in 1990 on strengthening the state governance on religious affairs in the new situation.  This resolution has clearly recognized the religious need of certain groups of people and positive values of religious ethics. The resolution, at the same time, specifically pointed out responsibilities of concerning state sectors and administrative levels in the guarantee of religious freedom for religious people.

In early 21 century, given contexts of many changes in the world, the country’s international integration and many emerging issues in the religious life in the country, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs in collaboration with concerning agencies proposed to the 9th Central Party Committee the approval of a resolution known as Resolution No 25 on religious affairs in 2003. Resolution 25 stated that belief and religion would co-exist with the nation in the process of building socialism in the country; religious followers form an integral part of the great national unity bloc; the Party and State consistently implement the policy of great national and religious unity: unity of followers of various religions and unity of religious and non-religious people.

To institutionalize the Party’s undertakings on belief and religion for meeting people’s religious needs  as well as ensuring efficiency in the state governance on religious affairs, the Standing Committee of the 9th National Assembly enacted the Ordinance on Belief and Religion in June 2004.

 Several state leaders in group photo with heads of overseas Buddhist organizations during UN Day of Vesak 2019 in Vietnam’s Ha Nam Province

Since 2005 the Government Committee for Religious Affairs has guided localities and Protestant organizations to implement the Directive No 01 on some tasks regarding Protestantism issued by Vietnam’s Prime Minister on February 4, 2005, and closely worked with concerning state agencies for bringing Protestant practices in the Central Highlands into a normal basis, and step by step guiding Protestant activities by Mong ethnics in Northern mountainous provinces to stability. In 2008, the Prime Minister issued Directive No 1940 on religion-related land and construction. 

Most recently, the 14th National Assembly passed a Law on Belief and Religion in 2016 and the Government issued Decree No. 162/2017/ND-CP in 2017, both legal documents taking effect in 2018. The new law on belief and religion has marked a milestone in the process of constructing and improving the legal system on belief and religion in Vietnam, as well as institutionalized the spirit and related contents of the Constitution 2013, contributing to create a fundamental legal framework for better protection of people’s right to freedom of belief and religion.

 The 14th National Assembly passed Law on Belief and Religion in November 18, 2016

Acknowledging practical contributions by the GCRA and the state governance sector on religion over the past sixty-five years, many groups and individuals tasked with the state administration on religion have been awarded state orders and certificates of merit. In particular, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs has been presented with the First-Class Independence Order on occasion of the 60th anniversary of the state administration sector on religion in 2015.

 Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam presented the First-Class Independence Order to the GCRA in 2015.

PTT

Sixty-five-year development the state governance on religion (1955-2020)Thus, in May 2005, the Prime Minister approved for the state governance sector on religion to take the 2 nd of August as its Traditional Day, recoganizing the position and role of the state governance on religion in the system of the state administration sectors.
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