As of March 1, unregistered churches, seminaries and other ministries in China are forbidden to use online platforms for meeting or teaching, according to a Morning Star News report.
The government announced in December 2021 that religious content on social media or independent media would first have to have government authorization, the report stated. The “Administrative Measures of Internet Religious Information” order said content posted on media must promote socialist values and patriotism to the Chinese Communist Party.
Voice of the Martyrs, a missions organization ministering to persecuted Christians, said China’s order directs internet providers to shut down service to Christians, churches or groups posting or sharing unauthorized religious content. “Swift consequences” face anyone posting or sharing such content. Violating this order may result in job loss, added government surveillance and travel restrictions, among other punishments.
When attorney Huang Deqi posted on the WeChat platform Feb. 8 that the new measure violates China’s constitution, media conglomerate Tencent deleted his article, reported Morning Star News, quoting human rights group China Aid.
The only authorized religious organizations in China include Three-Self Patriotic Movement (officially approved Protestant churches), Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and some groups of Buddhism, Islam and Taoism, reported Morning Star News.
More than 100 million Chinese Christians are believed to belong to unregistered house churches, Morning Star reported.
“Churches will no longer be able to host online worship services or post anything online without government approval, forcing them further ‘underground,'” VOM stated.
China is No. 17 on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.