China has announced that new regulations will come into force on 1 June 2022 governing the management of religious organisations’ finances.
The new Measures for the Financial Management of Venues for Religious Activities were jointly drawn up by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) and the Ministry of Finance.
They feature 55 articles in ten chapters and according to SARA are aimed at “improving the financial management system for religious activities sites”, a term that includes churches alongside monasteries, mosques and other places of worship.
The new regulations cover the management of revenues, local and foreign donations and expenses of religious organisations.
They also permit greater oversight of churches’ finances by religious affairs departments.
Article 4 states, “The internal financial management system of a religious activity site shall be reported to the religious affairs department that handles the registration of the religious activity site.”
Article 43 adds, “Religious affairs departments and finance departments shall guide religious activity sites to establish and improve internal financial management systems, inspect the implementation of the system, urge religious activity sites with problems to make rectifications, and punish violations of laws and regulations in accordance with the law.”
Article 43 also contains the provision that “religious affairs departments, financial departments and relevant government departments may organise financial and asset inspections and audits of religious activity sites”.
A year ago new government regulations, including a database of church leaders, were introduced, increasing state control over Christian ministry.
The new Measures for the Administration of Religious Personnel, that came into effect on 1 May 2021, state that, in order to be registered, church leaders must be those who “love the motherland, support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system, abide by the constitution, laws, regulations and rules, [and] practise the core values of socialism”.
At the same time as the new measures were introduced, China was placing further restrictions on Christian content on social media platform WeChat, including the blocking of Christian search terms and removal of Christian accounts.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in China and ask that they remain steadfast in their love for the Lord, sure in the knowledge that He knows every one of them by name. Pray that the new financial regulations will not hinder churches in their ministries.