As the Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services came into force on March 1, Christianity-related websites, WeChat accounts, and group chats have seen severe censorship.
One online Chinese Christian website has been blocked by its domain name server and server provider in mainland China. Users in Mainland China could not access the website for more than ten days.
Having provided Christian news, reports, and devotionals in Chinese, the website was told to “rectify according to the March 1 Measures for Internet Religious Information Services” on April 8. “Please particularly pay attention to Article 17: Other than any circumstances provided in Article 15 and 16, no organization or individual shall preach their religions, conduct religious training, post or repost sermons or scripture preaching, conduct religious activities, or live stream or post texts, pictures or recorded videos of religious rituals including services, worshiping, incense burning, monkhood anointment, scripture chanting, mass or baptism on the Internet.”
On WeChat, the most widely-used social media in China, the word “gospel (fuyin)” has become a sensitive word to be censored for official accounts. Official WeChat accounts are effectively like blogs, allowing account owners to release posts to and in some cases interact with subscribing users. An official account containing the word “gospel” was blocked permanently on April 18. The operating staff then registered another account which soon became an “unnamed account”. No Christianity-related account can be found when searching “gospel” in WeChat.
For the surviving Christian accounts, posts being blocked has become a norm. Abbreviations and pinyin (alphabet Romanization for Mandarin) are seen more and more often in chats and posts to avoid blocked keywords, such as Yesu for Jesus, JDT for Christians, and JD for Christ. Many pastors commented that they struggled to run the ministry on WeChat.