BACKGROUND: Vietnam has a repressive, communist government. Other than major cities, the country has poor infrastructure, with some mountainous areas completely lacking roads. The national government provides schooling in the Vietnamese language, but not in various tribal languages found throughout Vietnam. The country suffers from high unemployment.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Most Vietnamese practice ancestor worship, but many also practice a syncretistic blend of Buddhism and ancestor worship.
PERSECUTOR: Local authorities persecute Christians in rural areas, and members of tribal groups are not allowed to leave their traditional religion. Christian converts are also persecuted by family members.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN VIETNAM: New Christians are often evicted from their homes and villages, especially in tribal areas where local authorities exercise broad discretion. The government recognizes the Evangelical Church of Vietnam as well as churches aligned with the Assemblies of God and other denominations. Officially recognized churches are expected to report their activities and teachings to the government. All churches face government opposition when they evangelize outside church walls or attempt to conduct community events. Non-recognized churches, which cannot be officially registered, are in violation of the law. Within rural and tribal areas, existing believers can often meet openly, but new believers are targeted for harsh persecution. Christians are often denied social services, utilities and schooling in an attempt to pressure them to reject Christianity.