China Installs Face and Fingerprint Scanning in Churches as Government Increases Surveillance on Christians

A local resident rides a bicycle past a church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of China’s east Zhejiang province December 21, 2006. Eight Chinese Christians from Zhejiang province will stand trial on December 22, accused of inciting violent resistance to the law after they protested the government’s destruction of a church, a Chinese dissident and a court official said. REUTERS/Lang Lang (CHINA) – RTR1KLS4

Hi-tech surveillance devices including face and fingerprint scanning equipment are now being installed in churches throughout China.

According to a report from Bitter Winter, a publication that explores human rights and religious freedom in China, a facial recognition system that was placed in a government-controlled church, called the Three-Self Church, in Urumqi — the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — is now being introduced elsewhere in China.

“On October 6, Muyang Church (literally Shepherding Church) in the central province of Hubei, which is also the home of the Two Chinese Christian Councils of Huangshi city, had two biometric devices set up on its second floor. Since then, congregation members have to stand in line to have their faces and fingerprints scanned before being allowed to enter the church,” the publication reported.

“Around the same time, in the city’s state-run Tian’en Church, facial recognition equipment has been also installed to check the believers who attend gatherings.”

A Christian told the magazine several weeks ago that local authorities required every meeting venue established by Three-Self churches in Huangshi city to take the fingerprints of fellow believers and put on file their personal and family information.

The churchgoer was disturbed by the order since it requires not only that church members be under constant tracking and surveillance but that their families and relatives are implicated by association.

Other local believers also reported that since October, multiple state-sanctioned churches in Huangshi began using fingerprint sensors and face scanners to record their attendance at services.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter