COVID-19: Persecution Continues in China as Law says No Live Streaming of Religious Activities

Online meetings become the best option for church and several institutions during this pandemic but reverse is the case for china as this act remains illegal.

The watchdog Bitter Winter reported April 5 that very few organizations, and “only those that hold state-issued licenses,” can stream religious services online in China.

“We can’t get together because of the pandemic,” an underground house church pastor in the province of Jiangxi told Bitter Winter.

An online streaming was blocked by the government after the pastor tried to host one on February 9th, “Our first and only online gathering was blocked by the government soon after it started,” the preacher said.

That same day, another house church pastor, in the province of Shandong, also tried to stream online services.
“The meeting was stopped less than 20 minutes after the start,” Bitter Winter reported.

The Chinese law that bans live streaming of services says, “No organizations or individuals will be allowed to live-stream or broadcast religious activities, including praying, burning incense, ordinations, scripture chanting, holding Mass, worshipping or receiving baptism online in the form of text, photo, audio or video.”
Bitter Winter reported that on Feb. 23, the government-approved Two Chinese Christian Councils of Shandong Province issued a notice “demanding all churches in the province to stop live-streaming their services immediately.”

On Feb. 28, the United Front Work Department of the Nanhu district in Jiaxing, a government organization in Zhejiang province, said it would investigate all online activities by state-approved churches.

Churches in China must register with the government and join either the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. But because these state-approved churches face severe restrictions, millions of Christians worship in illegal underground churches.
Day-to-day online activities by Christians also are monitored.

Members of a Three-Self church in the province of Henan received a notice from their pastor in January demanding they dissolve their groups on We Chat, a social media app. In February, a village official forced a Christian resident to “change his We Chat account profile picture” because it contained an image of a cross, Bitter Winter reported.

Churches and their members are prohibited from saying anything negative about the government or spreading information about the pandemic that isn’t government-approved.

“The Public Security Bureau has information on all members of every We Chat group, and network inspections are carried out, especially strict during the pandemic,” a Three-Self pastor from Shandong told Bitter Winter.

Persecution has worsened during the pandemic.
“Encouraged by the government, many factories and public venues have been re-opened, but religious venues are still barred,” a Three-Self believer from Henan province said. “Religious meetings are forbidden, and all channels of religious communication are blocked.”

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