US State Department adds Pakistan to religious-freedom watch list

Burial of victims of a suicide attack on the Methodist Bethel Church in Quetta, Pakistan, on Sunday 17 December 2017 in which at least 9 people were killed. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
The US State Department has placed Pakistan on a “Special Watch List” for severe violators of religious freedom, it announced yesterday (4 January) with the publication of its annual list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’. The announcement comes as the US government cuts security aid to Pakistan, saying the country . . . Read More

Vietnam: Church told to take down Christmas nativity scene

St Joseph's Cathedral in Vietnam's capital Hanoi also faced challenges over ownership of the land next to the church which led to protests in 2008. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
One of the highlights at this time of year for the citizens of Communist Vietnam is to go to see often highly elaborate temporary ‘constructions’ showing the Nativity scene of Christ’s birth which local Christians build onto their churches or homes. There are, for instance, whole streets of such scenes . . . Read More

Vietnam: Catholic blogger loses appeal against 10-year sentence for ‘anti-state reports’

Vietnam: Catholic blogger loses appeal against 10-year sentence for ‘anti-state reports’
A Vietnamese Catholic blogger has failed in her attempt to overturn a 10-year prison sentence for writing “anti-state reports”. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 38, better known as ‘Me Nam’ (Mother Mushroom), is a member of the US-based activist group Viet Tan, which funded one of her environmental campaigns. Her blogging . . . Read More

Vietnam’s religion policy and practice – contradictions continue

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi
Optimists are hard to find ahead of Vietnam’s impending introduction of its new Law on Belief and Religion, scheduled to come into effect on 1 January, 2018. Vietnam’s Catholic and Evangelical leaders, as well as Buddhists and Caodaists, say the main benefit of the law, two years in the making, . . . Read More

The ‘remarkable religious transformation’ of Vietnam’s Hmong

The ‘remarkable religious transformation’ of Vietnam’s Hmong
Christianity started spreading among the Hmong in the highlands of northwest and central Vietnam in the late 1980s through a Hmong-language Christian radio program broadcast from Manila and has led to “a remarkable religious transformation … in the past three decades”, according to academic Seb Rumsby, writing for The Diplomat. Among . . . Read More

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center
Over 80 countries favour a specific religion, either officially as a state religion or tacitly through special treatment, according to a new report by the US-based Pew Research Center. Islam is the most common state religion – 27 countries have it as their official religion, including 16 of the 20 . . . Read More

ASEAN nations told to ‘end blasphemy laws that inspire violence’

A right for all - USCIRF report on ASEAN nations
On its 50th anniversary, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should repeal blasphemy laws, release prisoners of conscience and strengthen interfaith relationships, says the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In a new report, USCIRF highlights regional “arrests, detentions, and imprisonments based on religious belief, practice, or activities, . . . Read More