China Closes Bible App and Christian WeChat Accounts
Chinese Communist authorities continue their crackdown on Christianity by suppressing Bible applications and Christian WeChat public accounts as new, severely restrictive administrative measures on religious personnel came into effect on Saturday.
Father Francis Liu of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness said in a tweet that some Christian WeChat accounts, including “Gospel League” and “Life Quarterly,” were no longer available online, the US monitoring body said. persecutions International Christian Concern. reported.
When someone tries to access these accounts, a message reads: “(We) have received a report that (this account) violates the” Provisions for the Management of Public Account Information Services for Internet Users “and his account was blocked and suspended.”
Bible Apps have also been removed from the App Store in China, and hard copy Bibles are no longer available for sale online either, the ICC added. Bible Apps can only be downloaded in China using a VPN.
Another sign of the ongoing crackdown is that bookstores owned by state-sanctioned Three-Car churches are increasingly selling books that promote President Xi Jinping’s communist thoughts and ideology.
“Even their WeChat accounts are turning into propaganda channels for the CCP,” ICC said.
On Saturday, new religious regulations issued in February by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs came into effect. Rule 16 of Chapter III regulations states that Catholic bishops must be approved and ordained by the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
According to interpretation of the Union of Catholic Asian News, the regulations “indirectly state that the election of Catholic bishops will be by the state-approved system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and that the Vatican and Pope Francis will not play it. no role. […] This goes against the laborious China-Vatican agreement on the appointment of Catholic bishops, signed in September 2018. ”
A 2018 China-Vatican deal, renewed last year, allows the Chinese government to nominate new bishops to the Vatican through its state-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, with the Pope having veto power over the decision . At the time of signing, the Vatican said it hoped the deal would promote unity among the 10 to 12 million Chinese Catholics.
In addition, Article 27 states that senior religious leaders will remain in office for a period of three to five years, after which the individual will have to resubmit their personal information to authorities, the UK-based group said. Christian solidarity in the world, explaining that it could be used to sanction any criticism or breach of regulations by refusing their request for re-registration.
The Article 3 regulations include requirements that the clergy “support the leadership of the Communist Party,” CSW added.
Further, Article 12 states that the clergy must not “endanger national security” or be “dominated by foreign forces”.
Last month, Asia News reported that Chinese authorities punished a man who provided a place of worship for believers, fining him $ 30,000 for organizing “illegal religious activities.”
According to recently released reports, religious persecution in China escalated in 2020, with thousands of Christians affected by church closures and other human rights violations.
Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, CCP officials enforce strict controls on religion, according to a report released in March by the US-based persecution watchdog, China Aid.
Christians in official churches and house churches have been ordered to hoist the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs during services.
Last October, Internet censorship targeting Christians in China became so severe that even official government-sanctioned Christian groups began using the Chinese pinyin initials “JD” to replace the Chinese characters for “Christ,” China Aid reported at the time.
Two official government-sanctioned religious organizations – the Christian Council of China and the Tri-Autonomous Patriotic Movement Committee of Protestant Churches of China – have updated the titles and descriptions of all of their books on “Tianfengshuyuan,” their official WeChat bookstore, reported help from China.
In 2018, the Chinese government banned the sale of Bibles in online bookstores across the country to comply with a “white paper” that dictated respect for “core values of socialism.”
ABC News in Australia reported at the time that copies of the Gospels had been withdrawn from online retailers following the publication of a regime document titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief. “
The white paper stated that Chinese religious communities “should adhere to the direction of the localization of religion, practice the core values of socialism, develop and extend the beautiful Chinese tradition, and actively explore religious thought that accords with national circumstances. from China “.
China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for persecuting Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.
The Communist regime’s crackdown on religious freedom also led the US State Department to label as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly serious violations of religious freedom”.
In a previous interview with The Christian Post, then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was “certainly the case that the Chinese Communist Party [engages in] efforts to eradicate religious freedom wherever they find it.