Morning Star News, 14 February 2022 (excerpts)
Christian churches, seminaries and other ministries have been shaken by a Dec. 20 government announcement that all religious information on the internet will be forbidden unless organizations obtain government permission – an option that is not open to unregistered house churches.
Only 5 government-approved religious organizations may apply for such permission: The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (representing officially-approved Protestant churches), the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the official organizations of Buddhism, Islam and Taoism.
The measures follow complaints by President Xi Jinping that prohibitions against using the internet to “advertise” religion were easily eluded and more should be done to make sure that the internet and social networks are not used as tools for “religious propaganda,” according to religious rights magazine Bitter Winter.
“They can broadcast sermons and lessons but would be checked by the authorities for their ‘Sinicized’ content, making sure they promote socialist values and are not used as proselytization tools,” according to Bitter Winter.
Religious universities and colleges may disseminate content via the internet only to their students; any attempt to spread religious content to minors or “induce minors to believe in religion” will lead to the termination of the license.
“Organizations which will not obtain the license, and individuals, may not disseminate any religious content or even allusions through the internet,” it stated. “Sharing images or comments on ‘religious ceremonies …’ will be severely prohibited. Xi Jinping asked for a crackdown on religious content on the internet.”