Barnabas Fund, 19 February 2021
New government measures, which will include a database of church leaders, look set to introduce even more state control over Christian ministry in China.
The Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, first announced in November 2020, will come into effect on 1 May 2021.
Key among the measures is the creation of “a database of religious personnel” listing all those authorised by the state to perform religious ministry. Church leaders not registered in this database will not be permitted to undertake ministry.
In order to be registered church leaders must be those who “love the motherland, support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system, abide by the constitution, laws, regulations, and rules, [and] practice the core values of socialism”.
The database will include “the basic information of religious personnel” and each pastor, or other religious leader, added will be given an identification number.
The new rules obligate churches and religious organisations to conduct formal assessment of their pastors. The churches must use this assessment to apply “rewards and punishments”, which will also be recorded in the database.