Is Vietnam a friendly country for various religions?

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Vietnam’s religious diversity is a noteworthy aspect of the country. Vietnamese culture boasts a rich tradition of various religious beliefs and customs. For travelers heading to Vietnam, it’s advisable to learn about the local Vietnam religion. With its extensive history and abundance of sacred sites, Vietnam allows visitors to explore its religious heritage deeply. Now, let Ftrip Vietnam expand your knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s religious landscape.

How many religions and religious groups are there in Vietnam?

As of 2020, Vietnam officially recognizes 16 religions, with 36 religious groups spread across various locations in the country. So, among these are six main religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Cao Dai, and Hoa Hao. Vietnam has around 25,000 places of worship nationwide.

Discover the primary religions in Vietnam

Buddhism

Buddhism, the predominant religion in Vietnam, was introduced to the nation in the early centuries of the Common Era and saw substantial expansion from the 10th to 15th centuries.

It flourished during the Ly-Tran Dynasties (from the 11th to 14th century). King Tran Nhan Tong established the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen sect during this time. While Mahayana is widely observed in Vietnam, Theravada Buddhism is more prevalent in neighboring countries like Cambodia and Laos.

As the principal religion in Vietnam’s religious landscape, there are over 11 million Buddhist adherents, with more than 17,000 pagodas and four Buddhist academies in the country. The official Buddhist organization in Vietnam is the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

Catholicism 

Catholicism in Vietnam has a long history, dating back to the 16th century when missionaries from Portugal, Spain, and France introduced it to the country. Notably, Jesuit missionaries, led by Alexandre de Rhodes, devised a writing system for the Vietnamese language using the Latin script in the 17th century, which is still in use today.

In the 1960s, during the presidency of Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic, there was a notable shift in religious dynamics, with Catholicism gaining prominence over Buddhism in Vietnam.

Currently, Catholicism has approximately 6.5 million followers in Vietnam, supported by a substantial infrastructure that includes 42 bishops, around 4,000 priests, and over 100 religious orders with more than 17,000 members. The Catholic Church in Vietnam serves as the official organization for Catholics in the country.

Protestantism

Protestantism was introduced to Vietnam by The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Currently, there are about 1.5 million Protestant followers in Vietnam.

Moreover, there are approximately 3,000 pastors, close to 400 places of worship, one seminary, and one biblical school. The majority of Protestants in Vietnam belong to ethnic minority groups living in the northwestern highlands, including the Hmong, Thai, and Dao.

Vietnam has two officially recognized Protestant organizations: the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) and the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North).

Islam

Vietnam has some intriguing facts about the Islamic faith. The Cham people constitute the majority of Muslim believers in the country. Also, they are divided into two groups: the Cham Bani residing in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, and the Cham Islam found in Chau Doc, Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, and Dong Nai. 

Currently, Vietnam is home to over 80,000 Muslims, with 89 mosques across the nation. Additionally, there are seven officially recognized Islamic organizations in Vietnam.

Cao Dai

Introduced to Vietnam’s religious landscape in 1926, Caodaism is a unique blend of various spiritual teachings. Despite facing a period of prohibition by the government, it was eventually permitted to operate. Today, Caodaism boasts approximately 2.5 million adherents and is supported by 21 recognized Cao Dai organizations.

Hoa Hao

Hoa Hao is a branch started by Huynh Phu So in 1939 in An Giang province. It focuses on practicing Buddhism at home by regular people. About 1.3 million people follow this faith, with 94 temples across 20 provinces. 

In their homes, followers use a simple brown cloth as an altar and pray with flowers, clean water, and incense. The main organization for Hoa Hao is called the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church.

Discover Vietnam’s Religious Heritage: 5 Must-Visit Destinations

If you’re keen on exploring Vietnam’s rich religious heritage, make sure to include these top destinations in your itinerary.

Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi

Situated next to the serene West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple dating back to the 6th century. Despite enduring the tests of time, it stands as a testament to Vietnam’s spiritual legacy. Offering picturesque views of West Lake, the temple provides an ideal setting for quiet contemplation and immersing oneself in Vietnamese Buddhist traditions.

Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue

Renowned for its captivating architectural marvels, Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue is a revered Buddhist sanctuary. Its notable attractions include a striking seven-story tower and an array of splendid Buddha statues. Besides, set against the backdrop of the Perfume River and majestic mountains, the pagoda offers a mesmerizing panorama that enchants visitors from all walks of life.

Nha Trang Cathedral

The Nha Trang Cathedral, also called Christ the King Cathedral, is a well-known religious spot in Vietnam, boasting a distinct Gothic architectural design. Guests can marvel at its stunning architecture and soak in the serene atmosphere inside. It’s suggested that you join a mass service here to truly feel the spiritual vibe of the place.

My Son Sanctuary

In Hoi An, the My Son Sanctuary is a renowned archaeological site that transports visitors back over 1,600 years to the time of the Champa Kingdom. It’s also a great place to delve into the fascinating history and culture of the Champa people.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Vietnam stands as a beacon of religious tolerance, offering a welcoming environment for people of diverse faiths. 

With a rich cultural tapestry and a history of embracing different religious beliefs, Vietnam fosters an atmosphere of inclusivity and respect. While challenges may exist, the overall landscape reflects a nation open to the practice of various Vietnamese religions, contributing to its vibrant cultural identity.