By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
Christians in China’s populous Henan province are now reportedly required to register on a government app to attend worship services and must make online reservations before taking part in worship, according to a report from a U.S.-based human rights group.
The app, called “Smart Religion” and developed by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province, asks believers to give personal information, including their name, phone number, government ID number, permanent residence, occupation and date of birth to receive approval to attend a service, ChinaAid reported this week.
It’s a requirement not only for churches but also mosques and Buddhist temples, states the group, which documents religious persecution in China and supports Chinese prisoners of conscience.
Henan has one of the largest Christian populations in China. Local Christians say the cumbersome application procedures have reduced the number of believers attending churches. According to the Texas-based nongovernmental organization, many elderly people and those less tech-savvy may find it challenging to access the app. However, officials say such people will be assisted.
Once allowed into a place of worship, believers must also have their temperature taken, the group said, commenting that the app may be related in some way to COVID-19 restrictions.
ChinaAid contends these management measures were not implemented to protect people’s religious rights but rather as a means to achieve political purposes.
“This so-called ‘Smart Religion’ online application has been officially launched in some parts of Henan. In August 2022, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Puyang County in Henan and the Henan Billion Second Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. signed a project contract for the ‘Construction of an Independent Command Platform for the Management of Smart Religion,'” China Aid Special Correspondent Gao Zhensaithe wrote.
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