China’s New “Smart Religion” App Forces Christians to Register with CCP before Attending Church

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China’s New Smart Religion App Forces Christians to Register with CCP before Attending Church

Religious believers in China are now required to register on China’s new government approved “smart religion” app in order to attend services in church.

The human rights group, ChinaAid – a U.S.-based Christian charity, reported earlier this month that the provincial government of Henan rolled out the spy app to force all believers to register before they attend churches, mosques, or Buddhist temples.

China’s state-funded “Smart Religion” app, which is developed by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province, forces believers to register their name, government ID number, residence, date of birth, and occupation before they can make a reservation.

Even after registering on the app, believers must also pass a temperature check before entering the church.

Henan has the largest Christian population in China, with as much as 6%, according to a 2012 government survey.

As The Washington Stand notes:

The CCP is known for experimenting with social policies in a limited geographical area before applying them nationwide.

The area in which the CCP is choosing to do these experiments is strategic. Henan has been called the “Jerusalem of China” due to its historic revival among Chinese house churches. Most of the major house church networks in China were started there.

Making religious adherents register to attend worship services is inherently intimidating. It forces Christians and others to hand over evidence of their faith directly to repressive atheist authorities.

Making religious adherents register to attend worship services is inherently intimidating. It forces Christians and others to hand over evidence of their faith directly to repressive atheist authorities.

That requirement alone, even when Christians are not prevented from attending church, will make believers think twice before attending a service. Some may opt out entirely.

The CCP recognizes Catholicism as one of the five religions in the country and is heavily surveilled. The government also forces churches to censor parts of Catholic teaching.

According to ChinaAid, the app’s rollout is part of the government’s efforts to “strictly manage religion in a comprehensive way” by gathering data about religious believers.

The group also warned that the app would ultimately turn people away from religion.

“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,” the group wrote.

“China’s Henan Daily reported that on Feb. 24 this year, Zhang Leiming, member of the Standing Committee of the Henan Provincial Party Committee and head of the United Front Work Department, went to the Provincial Ethnic and Religious Committee to investigate and pointed out that it is necessary to strictly manage religion in a comprehensive way, unite and guide the majority of religious believers to follow the Chinese Communist Party unswervingly,”the group added.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been actively banning religious apps they do not control.

In 2021, Apple removed Quran Majeed, a popular app for reading Islamic religious text in the country, after requests from the Chinese government, TechCrunch reported.

While China recognizes Islam as a religion, it was also accused of human rights violations and genocide against the Muslim-majority Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

Quran Majeed was not the only app removed from China’s Apple App Store.

Olive Tree’s Bible App was also withdrawn at the request of the Chinese Government.

READ MORE: Attacks against Christian Churches Soared Following Roe v. Wade Reversal, Report

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