March 28, 2012
A Vietnamese pastor has been convicted of "disrupting national unity" and "enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing" and sentenced to 11 years in jail for operating a house church that was not registered with the government, International Christian Concern reports. A Christian woman who knew attendees of Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh's church said: "Eleven years in jail because he didn't register a church that was not hurting anyone? I am shocked. They always spoke so highly of him and how he was a giving person, so it is wrong that he has to go to jail for his faith." All churches in Vietnam have to be sanctioned by the state, and Chinh's arrest has left many Christians fearful that greater crackdowns -- and even violence -- could become more common. "The overarching atmosphere for religious freedom in Vietnam is hostile," said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.