Buddhism was first introduced to Vietnam in the 2nd century,
and reached its peak in the Ly dynasty (11th century). It
was then regarded as the official religion dominating court
affairs. Buddhism was preached broadly among the population
and it enjoyed a profound influence on people's daily life.
Its influence also left marks in various areas of
traditional literature and architecture. As such, many
pagodas and temples were built during this time.
At the end of the 14th century, Buddhism began to show signs
of decline. The ideological influence of Buddhism, however,
remained very strong in social and cultural life. Presenty,
over 70 percent of the population of Vietnam are either
Buddhist or strongly influenced by Buddhist practices.
Catholicism was introduced to Vietnam in the 17th century.
At present the most densely-populated Catholic areas are Bui
Chu-Phat Diem in the northern province of Ninh Binh and Ho
Nai- Bien Hoa in Dong Nai Province to the South. About 10
percent of the population are considered Catholic.
Protestantism was introduced to Vietnam at about the same
time as Catholicism. Protestantism, however, remains an
obscure religion. At present most Protestants live in the
Central Highlands. There still remains a Protestant church
on Hang Da Street in Hanoi. The number of Protestants living
in Vietnam is estimated at 400,000.
Islamic followers in Vietnam are primarily from the Cham
ethnic minority group living in the central part of the
central coast. The number of Islamic followers in Vietnam
totals about 50,000.
Caodaism was first introduced to the country in 1926.
Settlements of the Cao Dai followers in South Vietnam are
located near the Church in Tay Ninh. The number of followers
of this sect is estimated at 2 million.
Hoa Hao Sect
The Hoa Hao Sect was first introduced to Vietnam in 1939.
More than 1 million Vietnamese are followers of this sect.
Most of them live in the south-west of Vietnam.
Researchers describe the
Vietnamese mother-worship cult as a primitive religion.
Mother, Me in the Vietnamese language, is pronounced Mau
in Sino-script. The mother worship cult might be originated
from the cult of the Goddess in ancient ages. In the Middle
Ages, the Mother was worshipped in temples and palaces. Due
to the fact that it is a worshipping custom and not a
religion, the Mother worshipping cult has not been organized
as Buddhism and Catholicism have. As a result, the different
affiliations of the cult have yet to be consistent and
different places still have different customs.
The custom of Mother worship
originated from the north. In the south, the religion has
integrated the local goddesses such as Thien Y A Na (Hue)
and Linh Son (Tay Ninh).
In fact, the Mother worship
cult was influenced by other religions, mainly Taoism.