BEIJING — The Chinese government announced a ban on online Bible sales beginning Easter weekend, one more move in the country’s recent crackdown on Christianity.
Persecution.org cited a source in China who said the long-standing rule is that the Bible cannot be sold publicly or on the internet, but in recent years online bookstores have been able to sell Bibles. The Bible is printed in China.
Following the government’s announcement, people searching for Bibles on e-commerce sites were greeted with the message: “Sorry! No products in this category available.”
The New York Times reported that among China’s major religions — which include Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and folk beliefs — Christianity is the only one whose major holy text cannot be sold through normal commercial channels.
Persecution.org reported that the move came as China’s communist government was engaged in talks with the Vatican on a deal to appoint bishops.
The Times reports that the goal of negotiations is to end the nearly 70-year split between the government-run Catholic church and the underground church.
In the week before Easter sources report Bishop Vincent Guo Xijin of Mingong, who is designated by the Holy See but not recognized by Chinese authorities, was taken by police and banned from celebrating Mass upon his release. (TAB)