A church in China has been banned from using the word ‘Christ’ on the nation’s largest social media messaging platform.
Early Rain Covenant Church was told by WeChat that a post mentioning a book with ‘Christ’ in the title violated new Communist Party regulations.
The Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services bar Chinese house churches from sharing anything of a religious nature online.
According to the Christian charity Release International, members of the church regularly published book reviews and recommendations on WeChat.
But following a post referring to The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, censors informed them: “The word ‘Christ’ you are trying to publish violates regulations on Internet Information Services”.
WeChat cited the grounds for censorship as “including, but not limited to the following categories: pornography, gambling, drug abuse, incitement”.
A spokesman for Release International told Premier Christian News: “The only way the church has managed to get anything online with the word ‘Christ’ in is to change one of the letters for a number or a figure.”
He described the actions of the messaging service, which has nearly 1.3 billion monthly active users, as “the most extraordinary form of censorship”.
For the second year in a row, Open Doors has numbered China among the worst twenty offenders in its annual ranking of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution.