05/03/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – A Presbyterian church that is not sanctioned by the Chinese government has become the latest victim of China’s tightened control of cyberspace for religious groups.
Xinguang Presbyterian Church in Shanghai city was already listed as an illegal social organization by the government in July 2021. With Beijing’s latest ban on unauthorized online religious activities that came into effect in March, in April, the church was among the ten illegal social organizations whose websites were scheduled to be shut down.
According to China Aid, on April 12, the WeChat public account of “The Shape of China’s Social Organization” revealed that the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology have continued to crack down on illegal social organizations in accordance with the government’s directives. The joint operation has cleared the websites and the media accounts of the ten illegal social organizations.
As China continues to wrestle with the pandemic and restricts Christian activities throughout the country, even provinces that have COVID-19 under control are affected. Yet it is still rare for the Ministry of Civil Affairs to publicly disband a church as an illegal social organization. Xinguang Presbyterian Church’s case stands out since most unsanctioned house churches have been clamped down at a local level.
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