On November 14, 2013, at the headquarters of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, Mr. Nguyễn Thanh Xuân, Standing Vice Chairman of the Committee received the delegation from the US Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FRD) including Mr. John Francis McAuliff, FRD Executive Director, and Dr. Rafael Heznandez, Editor-in-Chief of the Cuban Artists Association’s Temas magazine. Attending the event were also leaders and officials from the Committee’s Departments of International Cooperation and Protestant Affairs
At the working session, Mr. Rafael Heznandez thanked the Government Committee for Religious Affairs for its warm reception. He expressed wish to learn about the religious situation in Vietnam in recent years, especially the role of religions in promoting and developing Vietnam-US relations.
Mr. Nguyễn Thanh Xuân said that Vietnam is a multi–religion country and its people have a rich spiritual and religious life. Currently, about 60-70 percent of its population is influenced by Buddhism at different levels. There are about 6.5 million Catholics, 2.5 million Caodaists, 1.5 million Hoa Hoa Buddhism followers and 1.5 million Protestants.
Since the renewal process commenced in 1986, the Government of Vietnam has always paid attention to religion and guaranteed citizens’ right to freedom of belief and religion. Religion is an indispensable spiritual need of the Vietnamese people. Therefore, the Government persistently carried out the policy of respecting and protecting people’s right to freedom of religion, promoting religious unity in the great national unity bloc and strictly prohibited acts of abuse of religion for individual or political purposes. The Vietnamese State has issued a law guiding religions’ activities.
Currently, Vietnam has 40 recognized religious organizations and 43 religious training facilities with 8,000 trainees. As many as 25,000 worshiping places have been built and repaired and thousand of religious publications have been published while 15 magazines and newspapers of religious organizations have been launched…
In recent years, religions’ international relations, especially those between Protestantism in Vietnam and the US, and between Catholicism in Vietnam and the US, have become a people-to-people diplomatic channel that helps people and religious organizations in Vietnam and the US understand more about each other so as to together overcome problems left by history, thus contributing to promoting the Vietnam-US cooperation to a new level of development.
Mr. Rafael Heznandez thanked Mr. Nguyễn Thanh Xuân for the information he shared and expressed hope that both sides will have more opportunities to boost their cooperation in the future./.