New restrictive rules have been released concerning religious activities online in China after

According to several sources including World Religion News, these new proposed rules prevent all foreigners from preaching or promoting religions of any kind online.

The purpose of this proposed regulation -which was released on September 10, 2018, by the National Religious Affairs Administration - is to offer "lawful regulation, "social stability" and prevent religious fraud or "extremism."

If passed, everyone would need a license from provincial religious affairs departments in order to share religious information online. Even with this license, people would only be able to "preach and offer religious training" but not live-stream or broadcast religious activities including non-verbal acts like the burning of incense.

Jeremy Daum, an expert on Chinese law, further explains that the regulations contained in 35 articles will make it illegal to publish information about anything connected to religion which includes even posting pictures from a wedding ceremony.

"As they currently read, the measures cast the net far too wide," he said, adding that "even parts of traditional Chinese culture over which the Party is rightly proud will be excluded".

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Response to new restrictive rules for religious activities online

So far, these drafted rules have received mixed reactions. Shixue, a monk from Cuiping monastery in Tiantai County, Taizhou, wrote in an opinion piece on news site that these new rules would have the opposite effect.

In his words, the license system would only "restrain religious promotion in legitimate venues by legitimate personnel, undermining channels through which believers could obtain legitimate religious content".

"People would gradually lose the ability to tell unorthodox beliefs from orthodox ones, and illegal religious extremist groups would grow more rampant and convincing.

"If the government restricts the people's access to religious content via legitimate channels, it can hardly stay tuned to the hearts and minds of believers, and will sow the seeds of instability."

Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, on the other hand, believes that this proposed regulation is exactly what the country needs.

"All sorts of religious groups have used the internet to preach. I think the new rules would finally regulate them," he said.

This proposed regulation is open to public consultations from now till October 9, 2018.