Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 6 News List

China to police religion online

ONGOING CRACKDOWN:Anyone wishing to provide religious instruction online must apply by name and be judged morally and politically fit, draft regulations said

AP, BEIJING

China is rolling out new rules on religious activity on the Internet amid an ongoing crackdown on churches, mosques and other institutions by the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party.

Anyone wishing to provide religious instruction or similar services online must apply by name and be judged morally fit and politically reliable, according to draft regulations posted online late on Monday by the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs.

Organizations and schools that receive licenses can operate only on their internal networks that require users to be registered and are barred from seeking converts or distributing texts or other religious materials, the rules said.

They impose tight limits on what can be said or posted, including a ban on criticism of the party’s leadership and official religious policies, promoting religious participation by minors, and “using religion to ... overthrow the socialist system.”

Livestreaming of religious activities, including praying, preaching or burning incense, is forbidden.

Chinese authorities have been ratcheting up pressure on religious groups, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to renounce their faith.

The campaign is part of a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the party and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Chinese law requires religious believers to worship only in congregations registered with the authorities and bans most religious observance in private homes.

All of China’s officially recognized religions appear to have been affected by the crackdown.

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