People of all religious faiths in the Henan province located in the People's Republic of China, must complete an online form and receive approval to attend worship services.
If religious believers want to attend services in churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples, they must make online reservations through an application called "Smart Religion," developed by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province, according to the religious freedom watchdog China Aid.
International Religious Freedom Summit Co-Chair Sam Brownback tells CBN News, "Now they're even requiring people to register on their phones to be able to go to church. Well, that's so they can track them and shut the places down."
China Aid reports, "Applicants must fill in personal information, including name, phone number, ID number, permanent residence, occupation, and date of birth, before they can make a reservation." Those who are allowed into the church must also have their temperature taken and show a reservation code.
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The app is just the latest attempt by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials to maintain control over all types of religious gatherings. As CBN News reported in December of 2021, China's State Administration of Religious Affairs announced measures restricting all forms of religious activities.
The Global Times, China's state-owned newspaper, reported, "Any Chinese organization or individual that operates online religious information services should submit an 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 measures went into effect on March 1, 2022, also forbidding an organization or individual from raising funds "in the name of religion."
International Christian Concern reported at the time 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."
Xi Jinping's Christian Persecution Just Like Mao
Brownback tells CBN News there's a new wave of Christian persecution in China as the CCP prepares for their National People's Congress.
The CCP is calling it "stability maintenance measures."
"We're just seeing the continuation of the Xi Jinping regime becoming a full Mao regime, is really what's happening. I mean... what he's doing right now is he's using the current technology. And he's doing what Mao did in the Cultural Revolution. It's just tightening down the whole situation, going after faith communities in particular and he's using it and doing it in a high-tech fashion," Brownback told host Gary Lane during an interview on the CBN News' program The Global Lane.
The Henan Daily reported on Feb. 24 that Zhang Leiming, a member of the Standing Committee of the Henan Provincial Party Committee and head of the United Front Work Department, asserts that it is necessary to strictly manage religion in a comprehensive way, unite and guide the majority of religious believers to follow the Chinese Communist Party unswervingly.
Persecution of Uyghur Muslims Continues
In addition, as CBN News has reported over the past several years, China continues to operate at least 1,200 concentration camps containing millions of Uyghur Muslims.
Their crimes? They may have relatives in other countries, or they made the mistake of applying for a passport. They may have had more than three children. They might be seen as too religious, or they have been declared "untrustworthy." This has been happening for years in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, and the world has done almost nothing to stop it.
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