The Chinese government has ramped up restrictions limiting Chinese citizens’ access to the Bible overall. Physical copies of the Bible can no longer be purchased online in China, Christian businessmen have been prosecuted for selling audio Bibles online, and the Chinese Communist Party has announced that it is developing its own version of the Bible that will embrace socialist values.
Last week, it was reported that a Bible app and Quran app had been removed from Apple’s App Store in China following pressure from the Chinese government. This is hardly surprising behavior from the Chinese Communist Party. But now, an American company has been enlisted to do its dirty work.
The watchdog group Apple Censorship was the first to report that the apps, Bible App by Olive Tree and Quran Majeed, had been taken down. When Apple removed the Quran app, the app makers were told it contained content that is illegal in China. China’s restrictions on religious texts have affected those of all faiths, sometimes brutally so. In Xinjiang, Uyghur Muslims who are caught with religious content on their phones can be detained without trial in an internment camp.
Leaders at Olive Tree removed the Bible app themselves. “Olive Tree Bible Software was informed during the App Store review process that we are required to provide a permit demonstrating our authorization to distribute an app with book or magazine content in mainland China,” a spokesperson told BBC News. “Since we did not have the permit and needed to get our app update approved and out to customers, we removed our Bible app from China’s App Store.” They ultimately hope they can get the app back on the App Store.
This seems unlikely, as the Chinese government has ramped up restrictions limiting Chinese citizens’ access to the Bible overall.