In Henan Province, China, Christians are required to register on a ““Smart Religion” app before attending church services. This new regulation has sparked concern among human rights groups, who view it as another way for the Chinese government to exert control over religious groups.
The “Smart Religion” application, which was created by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province, asks for personal information such as the individual’s name, contact details, and ID number. It also requires the individual to state which church they plan to attend and the date of the service. Once the form is submitted, it is reviewed by local officials who determine whether the individual is allowed to attend the service.
Chinese authorities have reportedly implemented a new rule requiring Christians to register before attending church services, prompting concerns of increased surveillance and government control over religious activities.
The rule has raised concerns among Christian leaders in China, who fear that it could be used as a tool to monitor and control religious activities.
“We are concerned that this move by the government will be used as a way to monitor and control religious activities, and that it could lead to further restrictions on religious freedom,” said Pastor Wang Yi of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu.
The new rule is part of a wider crackdown on religious activities in China, which has intensified under the rule of President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government has been accused of using a range of tactics to suppress religious minorities, including surveillance, imprisonment, and torture.
Christianity is one of the fastest-growing religions in China, with an estimated 100 million Christians living in the country. However, the government has often viewed Christianity as a threat to social stability and has sought to control its growth.
The implementation of the new rule in Henan has been met with criticism from human rights groups and religious organizations around the world.
“China’s ongoing crackdown on religious freedom is deeply concerning, and this latest move to require registration before attending church services is yet another example of the government’s efforts to control and suppress religious activities,” said Sarah Cook, a senior research analyst at Freedom House.
Despite these concerns, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province has defended the app, stating that it is necessary to ensure the safety and security of religious gatherings in the province. They argue that the information collected through the form will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as ensure that churches are not overcrowded.
As this new regulation is implemented, it remains to be seen how it will affect the Christian community in Henan Province and whether it will lead to further government control over religious activities in China.
However, critics argue that the crackdown on religious activities is part of a broader campaign to suppress dissent and to strengthen the power of the Communist Party.
The implementation of the new rule in Henan has sparked fears among Christians in China that the government will continue to use increasingly restrictive measures to control their religious activities.