Christians in the Chinese province of Henan now have to register on a government app in order to attend worship services, according to the Christian charity China Aid.
It says the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province is rolling out a ‘Smart Religion’ app, making it compulsory for all believers to make online reservations before they can attend services in churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples.
The charity says applicants must fill in personal information, including their name, government ID number, phone number and address before they can make a reservation to worship. It fears elderly people may find it difficult to engage with the technology leading to them missing out on attending services.
Those who are allowed into a service must also have their temperature taken.
China Aid says it believes the app is part of the communist government’s (CCP)’s efforts to manage religion by gathering data about believers :
“These management measures did not stem from the intention to protect the religious rights of religious people but rather are mediums to accomplish political purposes.”
Around six per cent of people living in Henan are Christian, making it one of the largest Christian populations in China. Six years ago authorities destroyed a Catholic church in the province as it was deemed an illegal structure and dozens of people were arrested.
China Aid’s 2022 report into Christian persecution in China, said the CCP had escalated attacks on Christians and churches across the mainland, with myriad forms of persecution including sinicisation, harassment and detention.