China ramps up campaign against online church services

By WND Staff


The Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on church services in homes and buildings now extends to online services, which churches around the world have conducted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bitter Winter, a magazine focused on human rights in China, reported Chinese authorities have prevented Christians from accessing live-streamed church services.

A pastor of an unofficial house church explained, “Our first and only online gathering was blocked by the government soon after it started.”

The report said a pastor’s online service in the eastern province of Shandong was stopped less than 20 minutes after it began on Feb. 9. A few days later, he unsuccessfully attempted another online platform.

Local Communist Party officials have issued public notices that churches are required to stop live-streaming any of their activities immediately.

The United Front Work Department of the Nanhu district in Jiaxing in the eastern province of Zhejiang also ordered a halt to all WeChat audio broadcasts.

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs issued an order in September 2018 banning the live-streaming or broadcasting of “religious activities.”

The Measures for the Management of Religious Information on the Internet stated: “No organizations or individuals will be allowed to live-stream or broadcast religious activities, including praying, burning incense, ordinations, scripture chanting, holding Mass, worshipping or receiving baptism online in the form of text, photo, audio or video.”

Online activities by religious believers are also heavily monitored, Bitter Winter said.

A Three-Self church in Laoling city in Shandong demanded all the members of its WeChat groups disclose their names.

“Encouraged by the government, many factories and public venues have been re-opened, but religious venues are still barred,” a Three-Self believer from Henan. “Religious meetings are forbidden, and all channels of religious communication are blocked.”

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