In a northern province, Christians who want to go to church services must fill out an application.
It is said religious people in Henan, one of the most Christian-populated provinces in China, are required to make an online reservation to attend a service in a church, mosque, or Buddhist temple.
Worshippers have to select the religious venue they would like to attend before making a reservation through an application named “Smart Religion,” which is developed by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Henan Province. But religious keywords like "mosque," "temple," "Christianity," and "Catholicism" are not allowed. This means that people who are religious have to look up the name of the district or the road to find their ideal place of worship.
Then they must fill in their personal information, including name, telephone number, ID number, permanent residence, occupation, and date of birth, to make a reservation. Usually, the number of participants is limited.
Churchgoers must have their temperatures scanned and show their reservation codes before entering a church. Asked how the elderly, who are unable to operate a mobile phone, make reservations, a recipient said the staff would assist them in doing so.
Two anonymous Christians told China Christian Daily that during a Sunday service at one of Zhengzhou's most famous churches, they were told not to take photos, videos, or write about the service on their cyberspace. Participants still sat at a distance, and men were separated from women.
According to the official website of China's Ethnic and Religious Affairs, in a symposium on the construction of platforms for managing big data on religion in Henan held around July 2020, several platform programs were inspected, including the development of "Smart Religion." The digital platform was a foundation of the project to improve the management of religious affairs, and the Henan branch of the China Construction Bank helped with technology.