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China bans Christian devotional app after previous leniency

by Will Hobbs
Apple China.JPG - Banner image

Leading Christian app says it has been removed from the Apple App Store in mainland China, reflecting the Chinese government's strict internet publishing policies.

It will restrict access to the National Day of Prayer livestream, previously featuring prominent figures such as President Joe Biden, Chris Tomlin and Franklin Graham, the platform announced in a statement.'s mission since its 2016 inception has been to enhance faith and community engagement worldwide, providing its 16 million users with daily prayers and Bible stories.

The app had operated under more lenient conditions in China.

"Since starting we've grown accustomed to positive relations with China," co-founder Michael Lynn said. "President Xi has allowed for the printing of nearly 150 million Bibles per year, and President Trump ensured that Bibles were exempt from Chinese tariffs."

 CEO Steve Gatena is inviting President Xi to the National Day of Prayer event in Washington this May, to discuss ways forward.

Apple told The Christian Post that it's obligated to follow the laws of countries in which it operates.

The law in China requires religious apps to secure permits from regulators to be included in app stores.

In 2022, China implemented regulations mandating an internet religious information service license for religious groups seeking to share religious content online.

Critics of the measure, including the advocacy group Bitter Winter, argue that only organizations deemed "legally established" can obtain these licenses.

 This effectively means that only groups affiliated with the five officially authorized religions in China have the permission to utilize the internet for the distribution of religious content.

As per the English translation of the regulation, those involved in "internet religious information services" are required to "uphold the core socialist values, adhere to the principle of independent self-management of religions in China, and actively guide religions to adapt to socialist society."

Matthew Potter, co-founder of, emphasized the ongoing efforts to navigate these regulatory hurdles. He mentioned plans to discuss the matter with former President Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination, on Thursday night.


"We are committed to overcoming these barriers to ensure that our global community remains connected and supported, especially during significant spiritual observances such as the National Day of Prayer," Potter said.

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