A new regulation on religion confines mention of religion on any Internet platform to a few government-controlled organizations that will receive a special license for very limited Web activity. All the others, and individuals, will be punished even for posting a picture of somebody praying, receiving a baptism, or burning incense in a temple.
by Massimo Introvigne
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has published this week a draft guideline on regulating online religious information, opening it for comments until October 9. It is presented as “one of the regulations” (not the only one) implementing the new religious law that came into force on February 1, 2018.
The draft regulation deals with “religious information including religious doctrines, culture, knowledge and activities promoted through instant messages and various social media platforms in the form of texts, photos, audio and video messages.”
Only those government-controlled religious organizations that will apply from “licenses from provincial religious affairs departments” and be granted these licenses, will be allowed to post online religious content. But not even all of the government-controlled religious communities will receive these licenses, and they will still face a number of limitations. For all the others, and for all individuals without exception, posting online religious-related content will become a major crime.
As for those authorized, they will be “prohibited from business promotions in the name of religion, distributing religious supplies and publications, establishing religious organizations and venues and proselyting for religion.” Obviously, any religious community “opposing the leadership of the CCP” will be banned from the Internet once and for all.
Licensed religious organizations would be “allowed to preach and offer religious training only on their own network platforms built upon real-name registration systems.” Individual Internet users would not be allowed “to post or repost
religious contents on the Internet.”
“No organizations or individuals,” including those licensed, “will be allowed to livestreaming or broadcast religious activities including praying, burning incense, worshipping or receiving baptism online in the form of text, photo, audio or video.”
Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist and intellectual property consultant. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of tens of books and articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio. He is also a consultant on intellectual property rights. From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In June 2012, he was appointed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as chairperson of the newly instituted Observatory of Religious Liberty, created by the Ministry in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.