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China tightens religious restrictions, bans internet evangelization

Public Domain

The country with the highest internet usage has the most regulations.

The Chinese government published a set of new rules on their legal information website under the heading, “Measures for the management of religious information on the Internet.” The missive will outlaw evangelization through internet platforms, including: the streaming of religious ceremonies, the distribution of religious materials, prayer, and even the burning of incense.

As in the past, it is illegal to post even the slightest criticism of the Party’s leadership, of its official religious policy, or the use of religion to overthrow the socialist system. The new measures also reiterate and strengthen the measures introduced earlier this year which made it illegal to promote the participation of minors in religious activities.

Additional provisions require anyone who wants to open a religious website to submit themselves to government scrutiny. The owner of the website must be judged to be morally healthy and politically reliable in order to receive approval. Organizations and schools that are approved will only be allowed to share information on their internal network, which may only be accessed with a username and password.

This limitation is an extention of the measure’s emphasis that organizations are not allowed to attempt to convert anybody. It is illegal to distribute information openly to those who had not previously identified with a religion.

Asia News reports:

The New Regulations (see Articles 68 and 45) prohibited content that “undermines” the coexistence of religions and non-religious persons, or that publicize religious extremism, or that do not support the principles of independence and self-government of religions. But they admitted that information and religious material could be distributed to the public, in compliance with the law.

These new measures were apparently put in place to stem the growing religious trend in China. However, a 2017 report found that 85% of Chinese citizens have some form of spiritual or supernatural belief, suggesting that these new government measures are directed at an already religious population.

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