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China’s New ‘Smart Religion’ App Requires Faithful to Register to Attend Worship Services…

China’s New ‘Smart Religion’ App Requires Faithful to Register to Attend Worship Services…

The Chinese government technically recognizes Catholicism as one of five religions in the country, but there exists an underground Catholic Church, which is persecuted and loyal to Rome. Government-approved Catholic churches, on the other hand, have comparatively more freedom of worship but face other challenges, including pressure from the government to censor parts of Catholic teaching, while including Chinese nationalism and love for the party in preaching. Religious believers of all stripes are surveilled in China.

ChinaAid reported that there are concerns that less tech-savvy elderly people might be isolated from signing up for religious services, but officials said staff would assist them in doing so.

ChinaAid said the development and rollout of the app is part of the communist government’s efforts to “strictly manage religion in a comprehensive way,” in part by gathering data about religious believers. The group also expressed concern that the introduction of this additional barrier will turn people away from the practice of 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.”

Henan was the site of the razing of a Catholic Church in 2017 by government authorities, who also detained dozens of people. The government had reportedly deemed the church an “illegal structure” and ordered it removed. Church property, as well as that of parishioners and construction workers, was confiscated. The Chinese Communist Party also claimed that the church had failed to pay a “road usage fee” that villagers wanted imposed.

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