The Expository Files

Jesus, a Whale, and Religious Freedom in Vietnam

This past year I have read reports of sad events in Vietnam. These events have to do with the persecution of simple New Testament Christianity. The persecution has involved imprisonment and other abuse for the "crime" of worshiping and teaching in accordance with the New Testament of Jesus Christ. These reports are true, and specifics could be given, but due to the ongoing threat if you are not already familiar with them you'll just have to take my word for it. I do not wish to expose any of my brethren to greater threat.

How that contrasts with another story, also about religion, and also about Vietnam, from the Associated Press. It seems that a dead whale washed ashore on April 2nd of this year (2004) and hundreds of Vietnamese came from far and near to worship it. This occurred about 100 miles south of Ho Chi Minh City. There are plans to erect a temple nearby because the whale started decomposing quickly. This way, the bones can continue to be worshiped for many happy years to come. It seems that many villagers in the region worship whales and consider a dead whale washed ashore a sign of good luck for those who make their living from fishing.

Well, at least some worshippers can freely worship in Vietnam.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

(Romans 1:21-25)

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 11.6; June 2004