As issues with surveillance become a part of our everyday lives, we are seeing just how far some governments will go to keep tabs on their citizens. Sadly, we are learning that no place is too sacred for the prying eyes of a controlling regime.
China Aid reported that the government of Zhejiang province in China has ordered surveillance cameras to be installed in churches.
The government reportedly issued the order last year and began implementing it at the beginning of March. The official reason behind the cameras was for “safety” and “anti-terrorism” precautions. The move is part of tighter controls on religious activities throughout the country.
But it was not without opposition.
Christians resisted the cameras. UPI reported that some churchgoers were injured when they fought with government officials who were enforcing the new regulations. Some were reportedly hospitalized.
“Government officials came to the churches and put up cameras by force. Some pastors and worshipers who didn’t agree to the move were dragged away,” an unidentified Christian in Wenzhou said, according to the South China Morning Post.
One churchgoer said the government’s policy didn’t make sense because Christians do not do anything to endanger the public.
“The government’s pressure on us will not deter us from our beliefs and will not affect the proliferation of our religion,” the churchgoer said. “The tougher the persecution, the more people will be encouraged to follow the religion.”
Christian churches claimed the government had no legal basis for installing cameras, adding that not getting the permission of the church resulted in an abuse of power and a curtailment of religious freedom.
In the West, it is perhaps more difficult to imagine a government wanting to place cameras inside a church to watch over citizens — or at least it used to be — but in this day and age it is not outside the realm of possibility.
While religious practice is a freedom we often take for granted, we should be ready to defend it.
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