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.
A miracle? Showing the power of God? What the…??? So, God is a member of the Liberal Party with voting rights, is he? No, he became Prime Minister because the Liberal Party has the most seats and voted him leader!
I feel like we are descending into another dark ages..
There is a forthcoming opportunity to put Scummo back in his Pentecostal box, the by election in Wentworth. If Scammo’s party keeps the seat, I reckon he’ll take that as a message from his preferred magic sky fairy that he’s a bit special and will run amok believing(?) that he’s got a sort of mandate to build a theocracy in pour wide brown land. Danger indeed! Publishing Ruddock’s report is called for too, we did pay for it. On the other hand, if he were to lose…
So Scott Morrison is a member of the Horizon “Church” at Sutherland, in Sydney’s southern beaches.
The “church” is what’s known as a Pentecostal “church” referring to the incident where a group of apostles were “inflicted” with “The Holy Spirit” and began talking in tongues (not their own language).
Many of you will have NOT been to a Pentecostal Church Sunday service, but, Dear Readers, in 2011, I went to five. The eventual outcome for me was divorce, and the “church” seemed to have no compunction getting families to “shun” other members of the same family who don’t join up.
This “shunning” concept can even lead to only half a family being allowed to attend someone’s funeral or marriage!
Firstly, might I say as an amateur theatre director of many years’ experience, the ceremony is highly effective and inviting. It “sucks you right in”.
Here’s a description of a typical Sunday Meeting format which was originally written in 2011:
A typical Sunday service takes approximately two hours. For the first half hour, various choruses are sung accompanied by a band which usually consists of a basic rhythm section (bass guitar, rhythm guitar and drums) accompanied often by a piano and less frequently by lead wind instruments such as saxaphone, clarinet or trumpet or maybe augmented by a lead guitar.
Musicians are members of the congregation and are rostered on to play at varying Sunday meetings.
The choruses sung are simple tunes based on folk-songs and lyrically consist of praises to the Lord, thanks for being blessed and expressions of joy. There is very little content in the way of profundity or sagacity.
At this point the young children are taken out of the general service – several members of the congregation will arrange appropriate activities such as a creche for the younger ones or games for the older ones. These activities occur outside of the meeting hall, away from the adult members of the congregation.
It seems that the adults who organise this supervision are allowed to do it without necessarily submitting to a police “working with children” character check.
After the chorus section, several members of the congregation will be asked to present their testimonials. This consists of the member coming forward, describing their life before they joined the fellowship (usually troubled) and then after they received the holy spirit (usually untroubled).
After several testimonies, a homily (referred to as “the Word”) will be given by either one or more of the pastors, who may be visitors to the fellowship, but usually regular pastors who are members. This will generally take twenty minutes, and usually many biblical references are given which are frequently convoluted and widespread.
Communion is then taken which consists of broken cracker biscuits and non-alcholic grape juice. The wafers and the juice are distributed around the gathering by the members of the congregation rather than administered by the pastor as in other services. Everyone takes a piece of the host and a container of juice and then when all have been served, the entire congregation eats and drinks the offerings (representing the body and blood of Christ at the Last Supper, of course).
After communion, reference is made to the gifts of the Pentecost, which of course includes the gifts of talking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and of prophecy. Other gifts of the Pentecost, such as gathering up snakes, drinking poison unharmed, casting out demons and healing by laying on hands, tend to be ignored (particularly the snakes and the poison, although in 2014, a Pastor in Kentucky was killed by a rattlesnake bite after he and his family refused medical treatment and went home).
Without fail, two or three members of the congregation will then talk in tongues. These consist of Glossolalia which run for about thirty seconds. After a short delay another member of the congregation will then interpret the intonation which normally takes a couple of minutes and consists of generalities often expressed in the language of the Middle English style as used in the King James vesrion of the bible.
There are plenty of “ye’s” and “verily’s” scattered throughout the interpretation which seems to be at least five times as long as the actual utterance in tongues.
After the tongues and interpretations, then occasionally some other members of the congregation will express various prophecies which are again frequently expressed in a Middle English style of language, and in very general terms. These interpretations and prophecies have reminded some attendees of the horoscope predictions as given in newspapers.
A donations bag is then handed around quite quickly. Donations to the church are requested to be anonymous, and churchgoers can also donate through regular or occasional tithing via electronic funds transfer: the submission of cash at a service is becoming less relied on in these days of electronic banking.
A “prayer line” then takes place. Any member of the congregation who has a problem and feels they would benefit from prayer is then free to form a line, explain their problem to a senior member of the congregation, and then have that senior member lay their hands on their shoulders and offer up a prayer for the member. This is done in several lines with maybe four or five senior members of the fellowship seeing prayer requests from possibly four or five members of the congregation each.
At this point the service is essentially over – announcements about activities and events are often made, arrangements about future services and rostering on is given. Then, after a few more choruses are sung, the congregation breaks.
A second session is frequently given which would typically take place after a lunch or an afternoon tea. It might consists of “fellowship” (which is just another term for a question and answer session) or maybe a visitor will offer a talk on a particular subject. It seems that getting people to hold the second Sunday session is proving difficult for the smaller congregations and it simply doesn’t take place at all.
Weird shit, people. Weird.
It was a miracle that placed a knife in his hand at the same time he was slapping Turnbulls back declaring him ‘ His Prime Minister’.