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A Secular State for a Religious Nation: The Republic of Vietnam and Religious Nationalism, 1946–1963

  • Phi-Vân Nguyen (a1)

Abstract

Most studies of the Republic of Vietnam's nation-building programs have focused on its security and land reforms. Yet spirituality was a fundamental element of Ngô Đình Diệm's Personalist Revolution. This article analyzes how the Republic of Vietnam attempted to channel the religious nationalism emerging from the First Indochina War. The spiritual dimension of the Republic's Personalist Revolution did not involve state interference in all religious activities. Instead, it promoted religious freedom and diversity, provided that the spiritual values they propagated opposed communism's atheism. In practice, this framework did not succeed in creating a religious alliance against communism. In fact, it strengthened a religious consciousness that would increasingly challenge the state, its assumption that religions opposed communism, and the very principle of religious diversity.

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References

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TL (Thời Luận [News Talk]). 1956b. “Phỏng Vấn Ông Chủ Tịch Giáo Hội Tăng Gia Bắc Việt Tại Miền Nam” [An Interview with the Northern Sangha's Secretary in Southern Vietnam]. August 18.
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