Archive for the ‘Christians’ Category

Religious freedom still a distant dream for Montagnards

January 7, 2008

By Nguyen Hung
Asia News
January 5, 2008

During the Christmas season there were persecutions threats and arrests in the North of the country. Many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, do not dare declare their faith because they are discriminated against in the workplace and threatened by police.

Lang Son (AsiaNews) – In a globalised Vietnam which boasts increased foreign investment, ethnic minorities are being discriminated against also because of their religious views.  “Oppression, threats and terror” are still being waged against Catholics (and Protestants) in many of the nation’s mountain regions.

The Vietnamese Constitution (dated 1982) states that “Vietnamese citizens have the right to religious freedom.  Each person has the right to follow or not follow a religion”.  But this article is barely enacted in the large residential areas.  In the rural and mountain areas of Lang Son, however, local authorities are threatening Montagnards who dare participate in religious service with prison.

Lang Son diocese was established in 1659 and is located in the North of Vietnam on the border with China. The total population is over 1, 15 million, with just 6 thousand Catholics, almost all from ethnic minorities.  But only about half of the number of Catholics living here are able to attend church on Sunday or pastoral activities. The rest do not even have the courage to declare themselves Catholics because of continuous discrimination.  A Catholic of the H’mong ethnic group tells AsiaNews: “We do not dare to affirm that we are Catholics because the local authority suspects us and threat that they will bring us to the prison”.

A young man reveals that “It is difficult to look for a job in the province if your curriculum vitae or your religious back ground are Catholic or Protestant. Of course you are not able to work for government offices or state organizations. So your future or your children’s future remains bleak and uncertain”.

“Though the government has said that the law of religions will be renovated and reformed, – adds another young Catholic – it still hasn’t been implemented. Especially in rural and mountainous areas, if the minority people enter any “religions’ activities”, it means that the person will be confronted with serious difficulties and obstacles in their daily lives. Local authorities still see religion as a taboo”.

During the Christmas period there were a series of attacks on religious communities in the North.  On 24th December, police raided a gathering in the village in Son La province, North Vietnam, where people were praying together on the occasion of Christmas. A young man from the nearby Phu Tho province attending the meeting was brutally beaten and taken away. Police falsely accused him as a criminal for whom they were hunting. However, he was set free later after a protest led by the villagers.

On Christmas day, Father Joseph Nguyen Trung Thoai, Chancellor of Son Tay Bishop’s office, was arrested on the way to Co Noi to celebrate Christmas Mass. He was held in police custody to prevent him celebrating mass. Again, he was only set free after a protest of the villagers.

In the village of Muong La, police did not dismiss a Christmas prayer gathering held in a private house. However, they did prevent anyone outside the village from joining the gathering. A group of people who had to walk 40 km to attend Christmas Mass were forced to go back to their tribe.

For decades now groups of Montagnards, be they Catholic or Protestant, have been subjected to persecution at the hands of the Vietnamese government.  They have long been suspected of having collaborated with the United States during the Vietnamese war,  Often the persecution is exacerbated by the expansion of Vietnamese towards Montagnard territory, expropriating lands and leading to mass arrests,

 “Local authorities – a young H’mong explains – have always been prejudice towards us.  They think that our religious activities are a cover for complotting or conspiracy.   But we Catholics, just like so many other Vietnamese, only want to contribute to the development of our nation”.

South Korea: Asia’s Christian Apostles

July 25, 2007

 By Suki Kim
The Washington Post
Wednesday, July 25, 2007; Page A15

The Taliban‘s abduction of 23 South Korean Christian missionaries in Afghanistan last Thursday has put South Korea‘s evangelical fervor under a microscope. Despite its long-standing shamanist, Buddhist and Confucian roots, South Korea has about 12,000 missionaries in 173 countries, second only to the United States. Today, almost half of South Korea’s population is Christian. I remember looking through the window of our fifth-floor apartment in Seoul as a child and finding the night sky peppered with bright-red neon crosses. When I moved to America in my teens, the first faces to greet me were those of the Korean American evangelical Christians at John F. Kennedy International Airport, eagerly awaiting new arrivals with Bibles and taped sermons.

The hostages, members of Saemmul Church from Bundang, near Seoul, appear to have been somewhat naive. They were traveling from Kabul to Kandahar on one of the most dangerous routes in Afghanistan. They rode a charter bus often used by foreigners, immediately attracting attention, and they did not alert local police to their presence for fear of being questioned about their identity papers, the bus driver has said. Photos of some of the missionaries, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, have surfaced on the Internet; they are seen giddily posing in front of the government sign at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport warning about the dangers of travel to Afghanistan.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/24/
AR2007072401851.html

Britain: Societal Breakdown

July 25, 2007

By Cal Thomas
The Washington Times
July 25, 2006

Another case adding to the sense of societal breakdown involves 16-year-old Lydia Playfoot. A court ruled Miss Playfoot’s school was within its rights in prohibiting her from wearing a small “chastity ring” to demonstrate her commitment to remain a virgin until she marries. The court ruled the ring is not a “proper manifestation” of her faith. The Playfoot family must pay $24,699 in court costs for bringing the case against the school. The girl’s father, the Rev. Phil Playfoot, said, “This country is tolerant of any views except those of Christians.”

Read it all at:
http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070725/COMMENTARY09/107250001
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/europe/britain/flag.shtml