Reporter: Can you please share about which provinces and cities the group called “the Almighty God Church” is currently operating?
Chairman Vũ Chiến Thắng: The State of Vietnam respects and guarantees the people’s right to freedom of belief, as well as strictly bans activities that abuse the right to freedom of religion or belief, cause harm to the physical body, health, life and property, or humiliate people’s prestige and dignity.
Currently there are several groups named “the Almighty God Church”, including groups granted the official registration certificate for religious activities at collective practicing places by local authorities. Those negative activities of the organization recently reflected by the press in localities of Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen, etc need to be proved, as well as be distinguished from other groups of the same name, for avoiding false labeling.
For the origin of such organization named “the Almighty God Church”, the government religious committee has been informed. However, negative phenomena recently covered by the press need more time to check whether reported activities were instructed by the organization or they were merely individual activities.
Reporter: As a state body whose role is to advise the ministry of home affairs on the state administration on religion, can you tell us what the Government Committee for Religious Affairs has done and will do, given reported activities of “the Almighty God Church” recently?
As for the government sector in the field of belief religion, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs and concerning state authorities at both central and local levels have monitored activities of the organization named “the Almighty God Church”, and have provided instruction for lawfully dealing with those individuals having violated the right to freedom of religion or belief, disturbed public safety and social moral, caused harm to the physical body, health, life and property of people, and humiliated people’s prestige or dignity. The GCRA has done this since 2016; many localities have implemented well and several localities have not. As soon as it was reported by several press corps, the government religious committee has issued an official note requesting concerning provincial authorities to make an urgent check, strengthen the mass propaganda work, and prevent and lawfully handle with individuals violating state laws. The GCRA will work closely with concerning central authorities for guiding concerning local authorities to carry out necessary works in order to maintain social stability.
The GCRA requests concerning local authorities at all levels to closely monitor the situation and step up the dissemination of the Law on Belief and Religion and its guiding decree No 162, as well as call on people to keep themselves well informed and stay alert for activities that lure people by using money, distorted information of the world’s end and a kind of sacred salvation that can be attained by cash handouts and forsaking of the family, work, the real life, etc.
Dignitaries of several religious organizations have previously raised their voice against above-mentioned negative activities. These religious leaders have individually contributed to lead the people to proper understanding of such activities as anti-religious. The GCRA appreciates their personal engagement and asks religious dignitaries and organizations to be cautious, so as to prevent prejudice, discrimination and hurt against decent beliefs and religions.
For engagements by several online press on the issue, I appreciates their proactive response and quick reporting. These coverings have contributed to broad communication, helping people to stay alert. However, I would like to stress the need for ensuring information accuracy in order to avoid misunderstanding of any religious organization as negative.
Reporter: Thank you very much for communicating with us.