Concerning accounts are pouring from China that have nothing to do with a physical virus. Many local believers are reporting crackdowns on the underground Church’s digital presence in China in the form of arrests and criminal charges.
Restrictions on digital Christian content are nothing new; some local believers already change their websites and programming on a near-daily basis. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game for two reasons.
First, the online Chinese Church has experienced explosive growth since the pandemic kicked off. Believers were forced to go digital when churches shut down, and officials were too busy fighting the virus to focus on restricting that growth.
But then, after the pandemic began to die down, Chinese officials had new resources and resolve to quench the rise of the digital underground Church.
“The Chinese capacity to kind of oversee what’s happening in the digital space is quite strong,’ reports Joe Handley of Asian Access. “Now we’re hearing stories of pastors that are getting detained because they were holding some kind of rally online.”
In fact, some anonymous contacts within China report arrests and other crackdowns are happening on almost a daily basis. Muslims, Catholics, Protestants; anyone who could pose a perceived threat to Communist ideology is finding themselves silenced.
Why? According to Handley, “There is fear of a political uprising, too much power and influence, or moving towards democracy. They want to retain a more authoritarian kind of state.”
Some churches are part of the “endorsed” or registered church. Anyone outside of that could face serious criminal charges for religious broadcasting, websites, or online communication.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Alex Anhalt
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for Chinese believers undergoing new pressure.
- Ask God to protect the unregistered Church in China.
- Thank Him for the exponential growth of China’s Church.