"This week is the last chance Chinese Christians have to tell their government what they think of its latest religion law.
They have an awful lot to comment on.
China released a draft of new religious restrictions in September, including the prohibition of online religious services, running religious events in schools, and organizing people to leave the country to attend religious training or conferences.
The State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) then opened up a one-month window for responses to the 26 new rules in its Regulations on Religious Affairs. The final day for public response is Friday, October 7.
The draft law opens with the assurance that all Chinese citizens are free to believe whatever they want and to engage in religious activity—as long as it’s within the tighter limits. One Chinese religious policy expert, who asked to remain anonymous, summed up some of what the regulations include:
- No religious activities that are not approved by SARA.
- No one may provide a venue for religious services that are not approved by SARA.
- No one may use their home for religious practices that are not approved by SARA (including home or family Bible studies).
- No publishing religious materials without approval from SARA.
- No foreign or domestic donations may be made to any religious organization that hasn’t been approved by SARA.
- No one may call themselves a pastor without the approval of SARA.
- No international religious exchanges may happen without the approval of SARA.
- No one may study theology at school without the approval of SARA."
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