Morning Star News, 15 July 2021 (excerpts)
The vilification of the Revival Ekklesia Mission church in Vietnam has somewhat quieted, but its linking of evangelicals with COVID-19 is feared to have done long-lasting damage.
State media, government agencies and the public in social media all reviled the church following the positive COVID-19 tests of two members of the REM church on May 26.
The greater evangelical community in Vietnam and abroad is supporting and helping the beleaguered REM congregation and trying to counter the disinformation campaign against evangelicals.
Reams of articles in the local press, Vietnamese-language investigative analyses by the BBC and Radio Free Asia and others, and direct communication with affected Vietnamese evangelical leaders raise serious concerns. It is unprecedented for people who have unwittingly contracted COVID-19 to be singled out for criminal charges.
There are also worrying signs that some Vietnamese authorities intend to use this COVID-19 spread as a cover to oppress faith groups, particularly evangelical Christians.
To date eight members of the church who contracted COVID-19 have now recovered and been allowed to return home but Vietnam’s recent surge in cases, coming late in the pandemic, is a severe setback for the country.
Its frustrated authorities seem to have found a scapegoat in the REM church outbreak. State media, social media and the public engaged in what evangelicals have described and experienced as anger, hate, cursing, insults, slander, innuendo and lies.