The Chinese government has introduced new measures to restrict religious activities online.
On December 20, the State Administration of Religious Affairs, along with the Ministries of Industry and Information Technology, Public Security and State Security, announced the restrictions that will come into force on March 1, 2022.
It will no longer be possible to conduct religious activities online without government permission.
Organizations and individuals wishing to provide religious information online should apply to their local Department of Religious Affairs office. Sermons, services and training activities organized by religious groups, churches and individuals can only be broadcast online after obtaining a special license.
Restrictions are also imposed on content aimed at young people. Online communications must not “incite minors to become religious, organize them or coerce them to participate in religious activities”.
The measures also decree that foreign organizations and persons or organizations set up by foreigners are not allowed to operate online religious information services in China.
The government’s goal appears to be to further “sinicize” – that is, make religion Chinese.
The crackdown comes as access to digital and printed Bibles is increasingly restricted in China. In October 2021, a Christian software company, Olive Tree Bible Software, was forced to remove its Bible app from the Apple App Store in China after failing to obtain the necessary permission from the Chinese government.
In the summer of 2021, several Christian accounts were removed from WeChat – China’s leading social media platform – while Christian search terms such as “Christ”, “Bible” and “Gospel” were also blocked. .