China just published new rules that will make it harder for foreigners in the country to share the gospel with Chinese citizens.
The Chinese Communist Party through its Ministry of Justice published a list of new orders last week. The list of strict new rules will prevent foreigners in the country from discussing religion with the locals, making it far more difficult for Christians to exercise their beliefs, The Christian Post reported.
In its continuous effort to prevent foreigners from using religion to "undermine" the country's national and ethnic unity and to prevent people from spreading what China calls "religious extremism," the CCP released tighter rules on how the government deals with foreigners who attempt to spread the gospel among citizens.
The draft contains a list of activities that China prohibits foreigners from doing across the country. According to the new strict order, foreigners are not allowed to illegally preach the gospel among Chinese citizens, and they are not allowed to provide religious education and training.
Foreigners are also prohibited from accepting religious donations in any form from Chinese citizens. They are especially prohibited from converting Chinese citizens to their faith.
To ensure that they prevent the foreigners from its so-called religious extremism, the CCP's new restrictions included prohibiting people from other nations to interfere with or dominate the affairs of neither Chinese religious groups nor are they allowed to interfere with the appointment or management of Chinese clergy members.
Using religion to "conduct terrorist activities" or promoting "extremist religious thoughts" are prohibited as well.
Foreigners who wish to organize any religious activities in temples, churches, or mosques must secure a permit from authorities. They are required to submit an application letter to the religious group in the city, which is supervised by official organizations such as China's Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Buddhist Association of China.
China continues to recognize five official faith observations in the country, despite being an atheist, communist state. The CCP allows Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. All religions, however, are overseen by the CCP's United Front Work Department. All religious groups must abide by the rules and restrictions imposed by the department.
For the Chinese government, any religious gathering or organizations operating outside the state-sanctioned group are illegal and will be fined fines. Some of the underground churches, or those who did not submit to state-sanctioned churches, are sought and shut while other religious study group locations are converted into propaganda centers promoting Communist party ideologies.
China has long been accused of committing crimes against religious minority groups in country, such as Christians, Uighur Muslims, and so on. Rian Thum, an expert on Islam in China at the University of Nottingham, sees the CCP's new rules as a reflection of China's fear of foreign pollution.
"I was struck by the repeated use of the phrase 'China's religious independence,' which points to the nationalist desire to purify religions of 'foreign' influences," he told CNN.
"The regulations look like an effort to seal off Chinese religious practitioners from their fellow believers outside the country," he added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Justice is soliciting public opinion on the latest rules. The public is given until Dec. 17 to comment via the Ministry's official website. The religious liberty and human rights magazine Bitter Winter, however, does not think such comments will help make draft laws better. Rather, it just might make things worse.