Beijing, China, Sep 12, 2018 / 09:00 am
The Chinese government has increased measures to suppress religious belief and practice. New regulations, published on the government's legal information website on Sept. 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 license certifying that their content is politically acceptable. Online evangelization 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 user names and passwords.
The ban represents the latest development in President Xi Jinping's policy of Sinicization, 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.
According to China Aid, a U.S. based organization supporting persecuted Christians, the first week of September saw government officials in Henan Province launch a wave of "escalating measures" against local Christians. These have included the removal and destruction of crosses from individuals and families, raids on church buildings, and the seizure of property.