SAULT STE. MARIE, MI (Christian Freedom International) -- A newly erected church building in the Dak Lak Province of Vietnam has been destroyed by government officials, reflecting a rampant disregard for Christianity in the Communist nation.

The wooden building had been constructed by the Vietnam Good News Mission and Church, a congregation comprised of over 500 Hmong Christians. The group had fled from persecution in the country’s northwest provinces and moved to the Central Highlands eight years earlier, and had dreamed of building a church where they would be protected from the rain and sun during their times of worship. In September 2008, the congregation had finally assembled enough materials to erect the large building for themselves.

Although many buildings in Vietnam are erected without permits, local authorities accused the Christians of “illegal construction,” despite the fact that the church had attempted to legally register itself for over a year. On December 2, 2008, the government issued a formal decision to demolish the church within two weeks if the Christians would not do so themselves.

A gathering of district officials and demolition workers arrived at the site early on the morning of December 18, 2008 and razed the building while law enforcement beat back hundreds of distraught Christians with cattle prods. Five people were injured at the scene, including a child who suffered a broken arm and a pregnant woman who fainted after being poked in the stomach with an electric prod. By day’s end, another woman who had been badly injured during the incident was not returned to the village, and authorities refused to divulge information of her whereabouts.

Christians in Vietnam routinely suffer under harsh persecution and discrimination, including destruction of their homes and pressure to recant their faith. Earlier in 2008, the country’s Catholic Church also became the object of the government’s violent hostility, after attempting to recover confiscated land and buildings from the authorities.

Christian Freedom International, a U.S. based organization that assists persecuted Christians worldwide, has provided Bibles and relief aid to hundreds of Vietnamese Christians in recent years. To learn more about Christian persecution, visit