On Tuesday, March 1st, China enacted a new law that bans online house churches by mandating that all religious groups have a license to post religious internet content.
China’s new “Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services” states that without a license “no organization or individual may upload teachings on the Internet, conduct religious education and training, publish lectures and sermons, or forward or link religion-related content.”
A new “Internet Religious Information Service License” will only be granted to Christian groups that belong to state-approved religious organizations: the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Approved religious groups with licenses will still be monitored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Churches that drift from CCP values and China’s “sinicization” campaign will lose their licenses and their ability to post content online.
Groups and individuals that do not belong to a state-approved organization are barred from getting a license. They will be banned from posting and sharing religious online content, such as photos, videos and livestreams of prayer meetings or baptisms.
Christians in China face an ever-increasing amount of red-tape around practicing Christianity, and these restrictions are the latest addition to the CCP’s crackdown on Christian content. In 2018, the CCP banned Bibles from being sold in an online bookstore, reported ABC Australia. In October 2021, Apple removed both a popular Bible app in compliance with the CCP’s demands.
As the pandemic swept through China and the CCP instituted strict lockdowns, many Christians relied heavily on online church services through Zoom or livestreams. However, with the CCP’s new restrictions, unapproved house churches are now cut off from posting, viewing or sharing links to their online church services.
The regulations also prohibit churches from sharing Christianity with those who are under the age of 18.
Violating these new regulations and refusing to make corrections will result in legal consequences and possibly worse given the CCP’s history of arbitrarily arresting Christians.
“Chinese church leaders,” stated Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, “are already prepared of course, thinking this is just another way to further the revival of God’s church when the Communist Party tries to use this and other means to scare Christians from further spreading the gospel.”
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Image: “The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic church in Huangtugang, China, in 2018. (CNS/Reuters/Thomas Peter)”
Acquired from a National Catholic Reporter article titled “Vatican-China deal on bishop appointments appears set for renewal.”