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World News

Online worship banned in China

by Alex Collett

Christians in China are facing a crackdown by their government, to control every word and image of religious content they post on the internet. 

The country's unregistered house churches, aided by online content, to survive the pandemic and persecution, are having that support stripped away, according to a partner of Release International, which serves persecuted Christians around the world.

Shortly before Christmas, the Chinese government announced that all religious information on the internet will be forbidden, unless organisations obtain government permission - which is simply not an option for unregistered house churches. 

The measure will hit churches, seminaries and other ministries.

Speaking to Premier, Andrew Boyd from Release International said: "If you've picked up on the latest worship song from Bethel, you tried to post it online, you can't.

"You want to tell people about your church's forthcoming Alpha course, you can't. 

"You want to put out a prayer request on Facebook, you can't.

"This all began with a COVID outbreak, when a church leader said let's have a time of prayer and fasting and he put that online, he was then arrested for doing that. 

"China, which is all about control, is a totalitarian state which seeks to control its citizens and what it can't control, it fears, and it tightens its controls. 

"The house churches, the underground churches, the unregistered churches, won't be able to put anything online officially, because to do so, they'd have to get prior permission from the government, the government won't give them that permission."

Encouraging Christians around to pray, Boyd said: "The best way to pray really is to understand, what's going on and to identify with people.

"Hebrews 13:3 tells us pray for those who are suffering for their faith. 

"Pray for those who are in prison, as though you yourself are suffering so that for that reason, we need to understand their stories."

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