A new website is being launched that is designed specifically for those from the People’s Republic of China who have joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while living in other nations of the world.
Church leaders say thousands of persons born in China have encountered the Church and become members while living in other nations, especially the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. Chinese language congregations are now found in several countries.
Many of these Chinese members remain where they have been working or studying, but many also return to China and do not know how to find the Church in their country and may not understand how they should comply with Chinese laws in relation to religious practice.
With the launch of the new website at mormonsandchina.org, the Church is addressing for the first time a number of questions about its members and operations in China. The site acknowledges that, historically, it has made few public statements about the Church in China.
The new website includes the most frequently asked questions by PRC Chinese members outside China and by Church leaders who work around the world with those members. It gives needed basic information for PRC Chinese members returning to China, including whom to contact for information, attending Sunday Church meetings and encouragement to observe relevant Chinese laws.
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“Our more open communication about the Church in China follows our developed relationship of trust with Chinese officials and our concern for the PRC citizens who are joining the Church throughout the world,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who has long supervised the Church in the People’s Republic of China under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“We will continue to teach our members to be good citizens. Providing accurate information about the Church will allow them to better contribute to society in China,” he said.
The Church hopes that making information public will counter many unsubstantiated rumors that circulate about the Church in China, including whether the Church is sending missionaries to the PRC.
Elder Oaks said the Church has no proselytizing missionaries in the PRC, nor does it have any plans to send missionaries or to engage in proselytizing activities in China. Furthermore, this new site is in no way related to the recent Church announcement lowering the age of eligibility for full-time missionary service.
“Over the years, the Church has built a strong relationship of trust with the People’s Republic of China by always respecting the important laws and traditions of that country,” Elder Oaks said. “In order to observe Chinese laws and directions on religious activities, the Church is blocking access to this website so it cannot be viewed in China.”
The new website explains that Church members should not mail religious materials to China or carry scriptures or other Church materials into China beyond a copy for personal use. Latter-day Saints should not discuss religion or the Church while traveling in China.
In obedience to Chinese law, worship services for foreign-passport holding Latter-day Saints are separate from worship services for PRC Chinese members, whose branches are directed by their own local priesthood leaders.