Online Evangelization Strictly Prohibited
In recent times, China has experienced a crackdown on Christianity with news of this intensifying especially in the Henan Province which has one of the largest Christian populations in China, with several million living in the region, including approximately 300,000 Catholics.
These have included the removal and destruction of crosses from individuals and families, raids on church buildings, and the seizure of property. Other reports include accounts of Bibles being burned and of Christians being forced to sign statements renouncing their faith.
Chinese Communist Party crackdowns in Henan province escalated after the revised regulations on religious affairs were published last February. In the Henan province, according to new religious regulations introduced in February, churches have to be officially registered in the state and adhere to the rules set by Chinese authorities.
In another recent development, Catholic News Agency reports that new regulations, published on the Chinese government’s legal information website on September 10, make it illegal for religious services, prayer, or preaching to be broadcast online.
Under the new “Measures for the management of religious information on the Internet,” those groups or churches wishing to maintain a religious website will need a government-issued licence certifying that their content is politically acceptable.
Online evangelisation is strictly prohibited, as are materials aimed at converting readers. Catechetical or instructive resources cannot be openly published online and must be restricted to internal networks accessed with registered usernames and passwords.
The ban represents the latest development in President Xi Jinping’s policy of “Sinicisation”, which places national identity and communist political belief over religious faith. At the same time as the new rules were published, reports emerged of more churches being closed in several provinces.