Beijing announces new measures to fight “illegal religious activities”
12/22/2021 Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on December 20, the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) in China announced new measures to curb all forms of religious activity online.
The measures for the administration of the religious information service on the Internet, adopted jointly with the Ministry of State Security and three other agencies, will come into force on March 1, 2022.
Chinese state newspaper Global Times shared some of the details of the new rules, such as: “Any Chinese organization or person that operates online religious information services should submit an application to the provincial departments of religious affairs. “
Online preaching should be organized and performed by religious groups, temples, churches and religious colleges that have already obtained the Internet Religious Information Service license.
Religious ceremonies should not be broadcast live or recorded online. In addition, no organization or individual can fundraise “in the name of religion” online, according to the measures.
Foreign organizations or individuals and organizations established by foreigners are not permitted to operate online religious information services in China.
In order to conduct religious activities online, religious content must not “Incite the subversion of state power, oppose the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), undermine the socialist system, national unity and social stability.” Religious groups should not use the Internet to “Incite minors to become religious, organize them or force them to participate in religious activities.
Pastor Zheng Leguo, a US-based house church leader from Wenzhou, China, told the ICC: “The new measures, in effect, prohibit all forms of religious activity. Previously there was some space for Sunday services and online Bible study, especially since after the pandemic the state banned in-person gatherings for churches, so that Christians began to meet virtually instead. “
He added, “Now, whether online or not, religious gatherings have been banned. Even though China claims the pandemic is under control, but only a few [Three-self] churches are in fact allowed to open, which contradicts the relaxation of [the] pandemic in reality.
Gina Goh, ICC Regional Director for South East Asia, said: “Since 2018, Beijing has introduced several regulations in an attempt to curb religious activities. From religious organizations, religious places, religious personnel to religious education, the CCP intends to control every aspect of a Chinese citizen’s religious life. Knowing that many “unregistered religious groups” such as house churches have moved their online gatherings due to increased raids and repression, latest CCP measure reveals regime’s determination to crush religious groups which are not controlled by Beijing. China’s religious freedom is further eroded.
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