Last Sunday a church in China’s eastern-coastal Zhejiang province said believers must have their faces scanned or fingerprints registered before entering the sanctuary.
Wuxi Church claimed that an information statistics system has been established to make pastoral work more “targeted and refined.” It stated that the measure could reduce repetitive registration and prevent heresies and cults from seducing believers, assisting the church in preparing for the resumption of gatherings on weekdays, not just Sunday services.
Last month, the system was voluntarily produced by a local information system company ran by a Christian member of the church. Churchgoers need to have their temperature measured, their health codes and faces scanned, or provide their biometric data.
The company disclosed yesterday that the system consists of a phone terminal (WeChat account), back-stage management, and recognition terminal. Believers should register their personal information on the church's official account on WeChat, including name, birth date, education, identity card number, the fellowship they belong to, home address, emergency contacts, and phone number. The system will synchronize the data into the recognition terminal. Administrators can check records of admissions, analyzing the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual statistics.
If any cult member comes into the church, a special mark of his or her face would be made so that that person could not come again.
It added that there was no absolute privacy in the Internet age. Since the system protected people’s privacy by use of a password, there would be no problem if the administrators divulge nothing.
A church in Anhui also adopted the "facescan" approach to screen participants, but there were conflicts between the staff over privacy and security.
It has been universally observed and sufficiently documented that the restriction and suppression of Christian practice across China has been tightened and accelerated, but there is no direct evidence that related government agencies have ordered the churches to implement ID check and biometric data collection.