Christian persecution and surveillance increases as the Chinese government installs surveillance devices in churches throughout China.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plans to check the identity of anyone who enters a place of worship through new facial recognition systems. The government controls many Three-Self churches around China and first began this invasive initiative with them in September.
By October, various other state-sanctioned churches in Urumqi, the central province of Hubei, and more were forced to record their membership.
Congregation members are required to stand in line and have their faces and fingerprints scanned prior to attending church. Although house churches in China are not allowed to host events, state-run churches are permitted to host as long as they record believers who attend.
In addition, churches are also asked to file their members' personal and family information according to BItter Winter a Chinese publication.
Believers are afraid that this information will be used to punish their family and friends as well as keep track of their whereabouts. Bitter Winter says those who are civil servants or Communist Party members are anticipating activity restrictions and negative impacts on promotions at work.
The president of the Two Chinese Christian Councils of Huangshi city says the surveillance equipment is a priority initiative in churches this year. In fact, she is worried that in the future this information will be used to bar believers who do not have their biometric data recorded from entering churches.
A lead for a venue that enforces the surveillance says that these scans are "just like employees punching in at work. In this way, the church can know clearly who attends the services and who doesn't."
Although this is a new development, church surveillance has been implemented in other ways by the CCP including placing cameras in places of worship and even washrooms.