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Sunday, March 11, 2018, 16:07 (GMT+7)
Measures to strengthen the popularization of the Law on Belief and Religion

The Law on Belief and Religion was passed on November 18th, 2016 at the 2nd session of the National Assembly (14th tenure) and has come into effect since January 1st, 2018. In order to enhance the awareness and obedience of the law in practice, it is necessary to strengthen propagation and dissemination with comprehensive and synchronous measures.

Vietnam is a multi-religion and multi-belief country. Religious people and believers account for the majority of the population and have  made major contribution to the cause of national liberation before, as well as the construction and protection of the country today. For this reason, the Party and the State have  constantly paid due regard for and ensured  people’s freedom of religion and belief. “Solidarity among people of different religions, and  between religious people and non-religious people” is the consistent policy in the great national unity strategy of the Party. This viewpoint has been concretized by a number of mechanisms, policies and laws in which the Law on Belief and Religion passed in 2016 is a major advance. This law has been bettering citizens’ freedom of religion and belief  while institutionalizing articles of the 2013 Constitution and international conventions on human rights in which Vietnam has become a signatory. The law has overcome the shortcomings of, and inherited and developed the 2014 Ordinance on Belief and Religion. This is not only an important legal tool for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of state management over religious and belief practices but also shows the special attention of the Party and State to  people’s demand for religion and belief. This is aimed to make religious people and dignitaries more happy with their spiritual and daily lives, more eager with and active in the patriotic emulative movements and socio-economic development; counter and prevent bad actions in disguise of religion and belief and deny all the distorted statements about the freedom of religion in Vietnam.

However, since the law came into effect, some people has made use of the freedom of  religion to distort the aims, meanings and content of the law, causing panic among people, especially the religious ones. They incited demonstrations and riots which disturbed people’s peaceful life  in some localities. There are many reasons  for this problem, including the limitations and shortcomings in the propagation and dissemination of the law; disregard of some local party committees and authorities of the work; inappropriate content and outdated methods and models of propagation; incompetent and insufficient disseminating staff; insufficient resources allocated for the work, and the loose coordination among forces, and so on.

Therefore, strengthening the propagation and dissemination of the Law on Belief and Religion is both an urgent and long term task which should  be implemented synchronously  by means of various measures and the involvement of all echelons, branches and forces. Attention should be paid to the following content:

First, the leadership and direction of party committees and authorities on the propagation and dissemination of the law should be strengthened. To make the work effective, party committees and authorities  at all echelons should strengthen their leadership and direction and seriously carry out the “Plan for implementing the Law on Belief and Religion ” and the Decree No.162/2017/ND-CP of the Government on some articles and measures  to implement the Law on Belief and Religion. It is imperative to promote the role of key cadres in checking, holding, instructing and overcoming the difficulties and emerging matters, and conduct preliminary review and review of the propagation.

Second, improving the abilities of disseminators to meet the mission requirements. This is the key force, which decides the effectiveness of propagation and dissemination. Therefore, selection of this staff should be conducted very thoroughly with priority given to the religious dignitaries and highly credited ones among religious communities. Localities, levels and branches need to hold training courses to enrich their knowledge and provide them with enough related materials  to ensure their grasp of the law, as well as the traditions and customs of local people, the principles, teachings, rituals of religions, and the skills and methods of propagation.

Third, choosing suitable content, renewing methods and models of propagation and dissemination to fit each locality and subject. The content should be focused on the rights and responsibilities of organizations and individuals for the freedom of religion and belief; religious and belief practices; the publication, education, healthcare, social security, charity and humanitarian activities of religions; state management and punishment for violations in religious field, etc., in accordance with the Decree No. 162/2017/ND-CP of the Government. The methods should be diversified; combine regular propagation with special propagation in each specific event and subject; attach importance to increasing the interaction and persuasiveness in the propagation. The models should soften the content of propagation through art performances, law contests, and so forth. Propagation and dissemination should be associated with free medical checks, mobile legal assistance, legal exchange and Q&A, and the settlement of situations and incidents relating to the religious life in localities and residential areas.

Fourth, combining closely organizations and forces in the propagation and dissemination of the law to generate a combined strength in the implementation. To that end, localities should uphold the advisory role of the Council for coordination in legal propagation, dissemination and education in planning, proposing and building legal documents and perfecting the coordination mechanism between forces involving in the work.

Functioning as an “army for work”,  Vietnam’s People’s Army (VPA) plays an important role in the propagation and dissemination of the Law on Belief and Religion. In order to promote the role of the VPA in the propagation and dissemination of the law, first and foremost, party committees, commanders and officers, especially political officers at all echelons should conduct education thoroughly to improve soldiers’ awareness of the meaning and importance of this work. At the same time, talks and courses should be held to make troops knowledgeable about the law, local traditions and customs, religious principles, teachings and rituals, and the regulations governing the interaction with people so that each officer and soldier will become effective disseminators. During the implementation, it is necessary to coordinate closely with local party committees and authorities; deploy task groups to religious villages to conduct direct propagation. The propagation of the law should be done in parallel with the implementation of the movements : “The VPA joins hand in building new rural areas”, “The  VPA joins hand for public health”, “Skillful mass mobilization”, and so on. It is necessary to  conduct medical checkup, interaction, cultural and artistic exchange, etc., with local residences, mass organizations and peasants’ associations, particularly in religious communities, to strengthen the military–civil solidarity, contributing to building strong localities and safe stationing areas.

Thoroughly implementing the above measures will necessarily make the propagation and dissemination of the Law on Belief and Religion effective, and put the law into practice, meeting the demand for religion and belief of a number of people, contributing to building the strong people’s security in the cause of national construction and defense.

Nguyen Duc Thinh, MA

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