China Goes Digital In Crackdown On Religion, Online Religious Instructors Forced To Register And Qualify As ‘Politically Reliable’

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

In a continuing escalation of China’s crackdown on religion, authorities have drafted broad restrictions on online religious instruction, banning all vestiges of online evangelism.

A draft of the new regulations posted Monday, entitled “Measures for the management of religious information on the Internet,” stipulates that any website that disseminates religious information must obtain a license from the government to continue operating and must be approved as “morally healthy and politically reliable.” Those who do obtain a license will be forbidden from distributing religious publications and supplies, evangelizing, and livestreaming, reporting or otherwise broadcasting any religious event or practice, including baptism and incense burning. (RELATED: Chinese Officials Are Reportedly Burning Bibles And Crosses, Forcing Christians To Renounce Their Faith)

Institutions that obtain permits are also banned from operating on any network besides their own internal network, on which every user is registered. As for what sort of religious material may be posted online, the new regulations clarify that any content deemed as “using religion to … overthrow the socialist system” will be outlawed, according to The Associated Press.

The new regulations are only in draft form for now, but are far more restrictive than the regulations imposed on religious organizations in February 2017. Religious faithful view the updated regulations as an attempt to quell all spiritual interest among Chinese citizens by blocking online access to religious material, according to AsiaNews.

The restrictions are the latest in a long line of measures imposed against religious expression in China as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s crusade to “sinicize” religion in the country and bring it in line with the teachings and regulations of the ruling Communist Party, which forbids religious belief or belief in any power higher than the state for its members.

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