Chinese Christians Must Register to Attend Worship: Report

Chinese Christians Must Register to Attend Worship: Report

China, temple
A Chinese Catholic woman prays at the government-sanctioned Xishiku Catholic Church on August 14, 2014 in Beijing, China. |

Christians in China’s populous Henan province must now register on a government app to attend worship and make online reservations before attending services, a US-based human rights group has reported.

Developed by the Henan Province Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission, the “Smart Religion” app asks believers to enter their personal information, including their name, phone number, ID card, permanent residence, occupation and date of birth for approval. to attend a church service, ChinaAid reported this week.

This is a requirement not only for churches, but also for mosques and Buddhist temples, claims the group documenting the religious persecution in China and supporting Chinese prisoners of conscience.

Henan has one of the largest Christian populations in China. According to local Christians, cumbersome application procedures have reduced the number of believers attending the church. According to the Texas-based NGO, accessing the app can be a challenge for many older people and people who are less tech-savvy. But officials say such people will be helped.

After being allowed into the place of worship, worshipers must also have their body temperature taken, the group said, noting that the app could be somehow linked to the COVID-19 restrictions.

ChinaAid claims that these management measures were not implemented to protect people’s religious rights, but as a means to achieve political goals.

“This so-called “Smart Religion” online application has officially launched in some parts of Henan. In August 2022, the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs of Puyang County, Henan Province and Henan Billion Second Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. signed an agreement. project contract for the “Independent Command Platform structure to manage intelligent religions,” wrote Gao Zhensaithe, a special correspondent for China Relief Services.

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“According to the official website of the Ministry of Ethnic and Religious Affairs of China, as early as July 2020, at the Symposium on Building a Religious Big Data Management Platform in Henan, many platform projects such as Smart Religion” were investigated. The digital platform is the basis of the project to improve the management of religious affairs, and the China Construction Bank of Henan Branch provided technical support.”

China only recognizes five religious groups that submit to government influence. Christians from unregistered churches bear the brunt of the persecution.

ChinaAid said in a report published last month that the Chinese Communist Party will be the 20th President of China in 2022. He intensified the persecution of churches and Christians until the party congress.

Accusations of “fraud” against pastors and leaders of house churches have increased in mainland China, and the traditional practice of tithing and offering in churches is considered an illegal activity, the report said.

Authorities reportedly used the updated “Measures for Financial Management of Places of Religious Activity” document implemented last June to prosecute the house churches.

“We are very concerned about the communist regime’s treatment of the state-sanctioned church,” said Bob Fu, president and founder of ChinaAid. “Previously, they only asked for loyalty to the Communist Party, but since the 20th National Party Congress, the focus has shifted to aligning with Xi Jinping.”

“Their goal,” he added, “is not only to nurture a ‘socialist-friendly’ church, but they hope to abolish it. The international community needs to be aware of these trends and developments as China continues to rise on the global stage.”

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The Chinese Communist Party continues to focus on religious crime.

“Before, during and after the opening of the congress, Chinese state religious groups praised Xi in more extravagant words and expressions than Chinese state media, indicating that religious crime is evolving from support for the CCP to worship and loyalty to Xi Jinping,” he added. the meaning.

The Chinese government has also introduced strict regulations against religious content on the Internet, which ChinaAid said was intended to “remove Christianity from cyberspace.” The group stresses that Christians face “unprecedented” online censorship since the implementation of the “Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information and Services” in 2022.

According to the 2023 Open Doors World Watch List, China is the 16th worst country for Christian persecution.

“Tightening restrictions and increasing surveillance are putting Christians in China under increasing pressure as the Communist Party seeks to limit any threat to its power,” Open Doors, which monitors persecution in more than 60 countries, said in a fact sheet.

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