Restrictions have been placed more intensely on the online ministry as China’s new Internet religious regulations took effect on March 1.
Released by the State Administration for Religious Affairs on December 3, 2021, the "Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services" stipulates that only religious groups with government approval are legal to share information on the Internet.
Both registered churches and house churches in China encountered varying levels of supression.
Since the implementation of the new regulation, the month of April saw a heavy lockdown on online religious activities. A church in Henan Province told its congregation to drop out of group chats and not to send any religious messages on WeChat, China’s popular social media platform. A county church in Fujian Province shrunk its digital ministries, while the online mission of a local church in Inner Mongolia was under restrictions.
All the WeChat accounts whose names contained “gospel” were removed. Articles published by Christianity-related platforms on WeChat were often deleted. Owners figured out a way to avoid such censorship — replacing sensitive religious characters with pinyin (the official romanization system for Standard Mandarin Chinese in Mainland China) or signs.
The WeChat account of the Social Service Department of the CCC&TSPM, the Chinese government’s umbrella organization for Protestant churches, once became unnamed in June and was authenticated three days later.
Many Christian websites were either commanded to delete mass religious keyword articles by their own servers, prohibited to be accessible or shut down. A famous Christian resource named “Jona Home” was closed down permanently after providing services for 21 years.
A Christian professional said that she has been blocked from using DingTalk, an enterprise communication and collaboration platform developed by Alibaba Group, for a year for “posting illegal religious content”.
A university teacher revealed that he was advised by the school leaders not to post any faith-related content on WeChat under such sensitive circumstances after publishing religious content.