China’s government in recent days continued its clampdown on Christianity within cyberspace by banning various Bible apps and shutting down WeChat Christian public accounts, according to a new report.
International Christian Concern reported May 1 that Christian accounts on WeChat – a Chinese social media platform – are no longer available. When Chinese citizens attempt to access WeChat Christian pages such as “Gospel League” and “Life Quarterly,” they receive a message reading, “[We] received [a] report that [this account] violates the ‘Internet User Public Account Information Services Management Provisions’ and its account has been blocked and suspended.”
Father Francis Liu of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness posted screenshots of the blocked pages on his Twitter page, according to International Christian Concern.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has removed Bible apps from the Chinese app store, according to ICC.
“Those who want to download Bible Apps have to use [a] VPN to circumvent the Firewall,” ICC said in its report.
This is not the first time China has targeted Bible apps. In 2019, China’s government removed a 6-year-old Chinese Bible app called WeDevote after it had been downloaded 10 million times, World reported. Popular American Bible apps such as YouVersion are not available in the Chinese app store.
WeDevote co-founder Levi Fan told World that China’s government monitored not only the app but also Fan himself. In 2015, Beijing’s Public Security Bureau ordered him to come to its office for a chat. Officials told him they “knew about the articles his wife had written on a Christian WeChat account and about the new house they had purchased,” World said. A police officer told Fan he was being watched.
“It was uncomfortable knowing that they knew everything, but because the Chinese house church has faced this persecution in the past, it wasn’t foreign to me,” Fan told World in 2019. “It helped me grow closer to God. I realized that I couldn’t do this on my own and I needed to pray more.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.