The Chinese government is taking further steps toward forcing Christians to support the communist agenda.
On Monday, China's State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) announced new measures that will restrict all forms of religious activities, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).
The Global Times, China's state-owned newspaper, reported that "Any Chinese organization or individual that operates online religious information services should submit application to provincial religious affairs departments."
Churches, religious groups, and colleges that plan to conduct online worship services must obtain an Internet Religious Information Service Permit.
Live broadcasts or online recordings of religious ceremonies are now banned. The new measures, which take effect on March 1, 2022, also forbid an organization or individual from raising funds "in the name of religion."
ICC reports that online religious activities that are permitted, must not, "incite subversion of state power, oppose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, undermine the socialist system, national unity, and social stability."
And religious groups cannot use the internet to "induce minors to become religious, organize them, or force them to participate in religious activities."
ICC's Regional Manager for Southeast Asia Gina Goh said "Knowing that many 'unregistered religious groups' such as house churches have shifted their gatherings online due to increased raids and crackdown, The CCP's latest measure reveals the regime's determination to crush religious groups that are not vetted by Beijing. China's religious freedom is further eroded."
Earlier this month, China's President, Xi Jinping spoke at the National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs where he reaffirmed that "Sinicization" of religion shall align with the CCP's goals and guidelines, Bitter Winter reports.
Sinicization was introduced in 2015 with plans to "make religious groups within China submit to socialism and the CCP's ideology by assimilating them into a unified identity with Chinese characteristics."
Xi suggested that Christians engage in proselytization activities and share religious content on social media, which is prohibited. Therefore, this leads the government-controlled Three-Self Church to "immediately" enforce the new directives.
He also requested a more thorough look into Karl Marx's texts on religion by all who are involved in the oversight of religious activities in China.
Pastor Zheng Leguo, a U.S.-based house church leader originally from China's Wenzhou, told ICC, "The new measures, in actuality, are banning all forms of religious activities. There used to be some space for Sunday services and Bible study to be held online, especially since after the pandemic took place, the state has banned in-person gathering for churches, so Christians began to meet virtually instead."
He added, "Now, whether online or not, church gatherings have been banned. Even though China claims that the pandemic has been under control, but only few (three-self) churches are actually allowed to open, which contradicts the easing of (the) pandemic in reality."
China is ranked 17th on Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Please continue to pray for the persecuted Christians throughout China.