China's communist government is known for its continued suppression of things that do not adhere to its communist principles, and a new report citing sources on the ground indicates that its efforts to silence Christians in the country have just increased with further implementation of a new law.
The new law, called "Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services," demands that every religious group must secure a permit from the communist government before being allowed to conduct religious services online.
The new measure means the CCP has complete control over what it allows to be done online, including the preaching of God's Word or even the simple act of raising funds for church purposes. According to ChinaAid, ever since the Chinese Communist Party enacted this measure on March 1, Christian groups using popular messaging apps in China such as WeChat have faced increased suppression.
One particular proof of this is the government's act of banning the word "Christ" from the messaging app, even if the Christians mentioning the name are not doing anything that can be considered a crime.
According to ChinaAid, Ran Yunfei, from the heavily-persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church, has a WeChat group where members recommend book titles to each other and vote to decide what to read using WeChat's in-app voting system. This group has existed for five years already.
In one recent round, the group members recommended the following titles:
- "The Defense of the Faith" by Cornelius Van Til
- "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius
- "Philosophy of Revelation" by Herman Bavinck
- "Tradition and the Individual Talent" by T. S. Eliot
- "The End of Economic Man: The Origins of Totalitarianism" by Peter Drucker
- "The Fate of Russia" by Nikolai Berdyaev
- "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas à Kempis
- "Exposition of the Christian Faith" by Saint Ambrose
The Chinese messaging app did not allow the members to vote on the titles because the word "Christ" was included in them. Specifically, the WeChat group's members were told, "The word 'Christ' you are trying to publish violates regulations on Internet Information Services."
Per the app's notification, the regulations cover three categories, namely:
- pornography, gambling, and drug abuse
- excessive marketing
The app then told the Christian group member that the issue can only be resolved by either editing the content of the message, or to submit the message to be reviewed by the people behind the app.
Sadly, the WeChat group's administrator had to modify the message to replace part of the word "Christ" just to pass censorship.
Before this, the group had already experienced some sort of suppression, prior to the measure's enactment. On Feb. 11, for example, Ran and other Christians were temporarily banned from posting on WeChat. An account belonging to a Christian lawyer named Zhang Peihong was also deleted from the app.