Author: Clare Bruce
The Christian non-profit Open Doors is urging Australians to increase their prayer and support for the persecuted church, as believers are targeted with surveillance and biometric technology.
Mike Gore, CEO of Open Doors Australia and New Zealand, said persecution is going digital in places like China and India, where Christians are increasingly being monitored by the use of cameras and facial recognition software.
China now uses more surveillance cameras than any other nation, and it’s believed that by the end of 2020, there will be roughly one camera for every two citizens. For Christians, that means even less freedom to meet, pray and worship.
Under China’s “Regulations for Religious Affairs” introduced two years ago, children and teens under 18 are banned from attending church, and believers in some areas are punished for sharing their faith. According to Open Doors International (ODI), cameras may be used in China “to report on church members’ activities, intimidate them, and keep young people under the age of 18 out of churches”.
Even in the state-sanctioned church known as the ‘Three Self Patriotic Movement’, some congregations have been harassed, forced to install cameras and facial-recognition technology, and at times shut down.
The government is also cracking down on the sharing of Christian resources online, which have long been a great source of encouragement for Chinese believers; and there is now a new law in place for mandatory use of facial recognition when buying a new smartphone, which will make it even harder for believers to keep a low profile.