According to numerous sources, Chinese shopping sites now have no results for “holy bible.” These sites include some China’s largest book purchasing websites like Taobao, JingDong, Amazon China and DangDang. However,  some sites still carry other religious texts like the Quran.

This Bible ban affects a lot of Chinese citizens, as the country is home to 70 million Christians.

Church Leaders reports that there isn’t a clear reason for why the Bible was removed from online stores. This has not stopped people from speculating.

Some believe the shop owners were ordered to remove the Bible, while others say there is no official approval from the government for the publication of the Holy Book.

This ban follows a list of rules released by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs.

“Place new oversight on online discussion of religious matters, on religious gatherings, the financing of religious groups and the construction of religious buildings, among others.

“They increase existing restrictions on unregistered religious groups to include explicit bans on teaching about religion or going abroad to take part in training or meetings,” the new statement read.

These new rules came into effect February 2, 2018.

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China promises to defend religious freedom after Bible ban

Meanwhile, the government has promised to protect the religious freedom of its citizens.

On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the government issued a paper, titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief.”

The document declares that Chinese faith communities “should adhere to the direction of localizing the religion, practice the core values of socialism, develop and expand the fine Chinese tradition and actively explore the religious thought which accords with China’s national circumstances.”

According to the document,  the next five years will be used to build up Chinese Christianity and the Chinese theology to “consciously develop Bible study talents to lay a solid foundation for reinterpreting and re-translating the Bible or writing the reference books.”

The document was released four days after the disappearances of Bibles from online bookshelves, according to Christian Headlines.

Reacting to the document and Bible ban, William Nee, a researcher for Amnesty International, said,"For a government that just yesterday claimed to be supporting religious freedom, it is ridiculous that the core book of a major world religion — the Bible — cannot be found on the major Chinese e-commerce platforms."

The Bible ban follows the damage of several churches, ban on all religious activities and the house arrest of some Christians.