Believers in China face punishment for posting any faith-related information or even a picture of a cross on the internet.
A draft guideline on regulating online religious information published by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the beginning of September confines mention of religion on any internet platform to a few government-controlled organizations. Others will be punished for posting even a religion-related picture.
The document, entitled Internet Religious Information Service Management Measures, is still a draft, but the persecutions for religious information online have already started.
A preacher at a government-controlled Three-Self church in Henan’s Shangqiu city, Li Xianhua, recently heard a government broadcast as per which, putting up religious couplet banners or photos of the cross is a crime. Anyone found with such material in their homes could be fined up to 5,000 RMB (or 720 USD), and those who fail to pay might be arrested as well.
Ms. Li took to her Weibo account, a Chinese social media site, to express her feelings about this unjust order. Within three hours, more than 30 officials showed up at her doorstep. They forced her to delete her post, and since then, the officials have made multiple visits at her home to warn her against such posts in the future.
There have been many more incidents like this. Ding Hua used to upload Christian songs on a mobile app called WeSing. She and her friends would often share such songs, but as of last month, they have been prohibited from doing so.
Another Christian, Yang Jie, had “XX Cross” as her username and a cross as her display photo on the social media platform WeChat. However, she recently started receiving notifications asking her to change the photo and remove the word “cross” from her username. She has also received several threats regarding it. Many other Christians too have faced the same issues on WeChat as Ms. Yang.
(All names are pseudonyms.)
Reported by Jiang Tao