Contributed by Glen Davis
Scott Morrison, Australia’s thirtieth Prime Minister, is a member of a Pentecostal Church, a significant part of which belongs to a movement with a powerful voice in right wing politics.
This brand of Pentecostals has long been powerful in United Sates politics. Church Leader Pat Robertson, has had the ear of presidents and governments, back to the time of Ronald Reagan. Another leader supported the US backed Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt. Over 200,000 Guatemalans died, and Montt was eventually found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Sarah Jane Lancaster is considered the founder of Australian Pentecostalism. From its beginnings in the early twentieth century, it has grown into a wealthy and influential entity in its own right.
One of the most powerful of its exponents is the proselyting Hillsong Church, which has in recent times, obtained over $50 million tax free in government handouts. It is led by Brian Houston, a man notable for not informing the police of sexual abuse in the church, perpetrated by his father.
The church practices talking in tongues, believes that the world is only a few thousand years old, and that trickle down economics is good. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is linked to it. Hillsong took a front seat role in the opposition to marriage equality.
While the numbers of Australians identifying in the census as Christians drops, the Pentecostals buck this trend, their numbers increase, and so it seems, does their influence. In 2018 the groupings linked with the Pentecostals involve over 300,000 Australians.
In 2017, former Howard Government minister Phil Ruddock conducted a review of Christian ‘freedoms.’ One of the loudest voices calling for this was then Treasurer Morrison. However, the report was shelved. Morrison is now talking of a new inquiry freedom of religion.
It’s worth noting, that S116 of the Australian Constitution does not allow a state religion, nor does it put limits on freedom of religion, so why a review and talk of a follow up inquiry?
We have had recent comments from Pentecostal leaders, like Adam Thompson and Adrian Beale, saying that Prime Minister Morrison and his party must win the next election or darkness will come. Another leader, Warwick Marsh, urged his followers to fast and pray to help Morrison become leader of his party. When Morrison replaced Turnbull as their party leader, Marsh said this was a miracle, showing the power of God.
In 2018, where almost a third of Australians do not believe in a religion, we have prime minister connected to some of the most reactionary religions groupings out there. Not good.