China puts stop to ‘chaotic’ religious expression online

by WorldTribune Staff, September 11, 2018

As part of a crackdown on what it calls the “chaotic” and illegal online promotion of religion, China is requiring all religious organizations to obtain a license before being allowed to disseminate religious information on the Internet.

Licensed religious groups in China will be able to ‘preach and offer religious training’ but will not be allowed to live-stream or broadcast religious activities. / AP

Under the new draft guidelines, organizations or individuals are prohibited from live-streaming or broadcasting religious activities including praying, burning incense, worshiping or receiving baptism online in the form of text, photo, audio or video, the state-run Global Times reported on Sept. 11.

The organizations and individuals are also prohibited in online religious services from opposing the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

The dissemination of religious information anywhere other than their own Internet platforms is also forbidden, the report said.

The organizations, which will be required to apply for licenses from provincial religious affairs departments, also are prohibited from business promotions in the name of religion, distributing religious supplies and publications, establishing religious organizations and venues and developing believers of religions.

Chinese citizens can only practice a religion if it is officially recognized by the government.

Meanwhile, Beijing city authorities on Sept. 10 banned one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated “illegal promotional materials.”

The Zion church, which hosted hundreds of worshipers every weekend in a renovated hall in north Beijing, had rejected requests from authorities to install closed-circuit television cameras in the building.

The Beijing Chaoyang district civil affairs bureau said that by organizing events without registering, the church was breaking rules forbidding mass gatherings.

China has also been under heavy international scrutiny for its treatment of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of conducting a punitive crackdown that has seen the detention of as many as 1 million ethnic Uighurs in internment camps.

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