The Party and State of Vietnam always respect people’s rights to religious and belief freedom, and ensures all religions observe the law, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said.

Dung made the statement at a working session with leaders of the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs in Hanoi on February 26.

The Party and State attach great importance to the State management of religions and mass mobilisation work, he added.

The Government leader asked the committee to bring into full paly its achievements and overcome limitations and shortcomings while better performing the State management of religions, firstly as an advisor on building related institutions and policies.

The committee is also required to intensify its inspection of the implementation of the law on religions.

Dung highlighted awareness work in the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies regarding religions.

He stressed the need to be vigilant against hostile forces that take advantage of religions to undermine national unity and political-social order.

Vietnam is home to 13 religions and 36 religious organisations licensed by the State, 24 million followers (27 percent of the total population), 83,000 dignitaries and 25,000 worshipping sites.

Non-religious people also have worshipping rituals dedicated to their ancestors, gods and to those who made great contributions to the nation.

The rituals are reflected in various festivals different across the country.

The head of the committee, Pham Dung, who is also Deputy Interior Minister, said religious activities basically abide by the law, and religious organisations take an active part in social life, especially in the fields of charity and humanitarian work.

The organisations have helped bring Vietnam closer to the world, and introduce the country’s renewed religious policies as well as changes in the religious life to international friends.

However, Pham Dung said the State management of religions still shows limitations and shortcomings, such as the shortage of legal documents on religions and beliefs, and legal documents that remain outdated in the context of international integration.

Along with difficulties regarding the organisation and officers in charge of the State management of religions, he also pointed out the lack of direction in belief activities in regions across Vietnam .

Illegal missionary work and superstition still exist among ethnic minority groups and at border areas, he said.-VNA