Legislation designed to ‘suffocate’ the Church has come into force in China, a Christian organisation has warned.
Release International (RI), which helps persecuted Christians around the world, said measures which took effect last week will severely restrict Christian activity.
For the third 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.
Tightening the screw
According to RI, the new measures confine all religious activities to official venues and ban the outdoor display of religious symbols.
tightening of the screws designed to eliminate the visible presence of Christianity in China
Places of worship can also no longer be named after denominations, churches or individuals, and religious leaders must clearly show they are “supporting” the Communist Party and leadership.
Paul Robinson, RI’s CEO, said the measures indicated “a tightening of the screws designed to eliminate the visible presence of Christianity in China”.
Last year, posting evangelical Christian content on the internet, or via social media, without permission from the Communist Party was declared illegal.
Under the regulations, only the five officially sanctioned religions – Three-Self Church Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Daoism, Buddhism and Islam – are eligible to apply for a special licence.
The Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services bar Chinese house churches from sharing anything of a religious nature online.
Following the introduction of the measures, a church in China was banned from using the word ‘Christ’ on the nation’s largest social media messaging platform.