Scott Morrison has never been shy about his Pentecostal faith.
The first Prime Minister in Australia to adhere to the evangelical Christian sect, he welcomed journalists into the Horizon Church in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire with open arms during his election trail in 2019, later deeming the shock result as a “miracle” victory.
In the two years of his tenure he’s spoken candidly about his love of prayer in parliament saying it “gives us a reminder of our humility and our vulnerability, and that forms a unity.” And if you haven’t yet witnessed the multitude of video reels and images showing him at various Church events — hands raised to the heavens, amid crowds of thousands– you’ve frankly been living beneath a rock.
Indeed Morrison’s faith has always felt more brazen and potent than that held by his predecessors. John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull for example, were all religious men. But their beliefs rarely, if ever, informed their decisions on policy. As sociologist Gary Bouma aptly suggested, religious beliefs of Australia’s prime ministers are often “low temperature” like our attitudes to life.
Morrison’s belief system by contrast is lava hot. It’s unequivocal, unyielding and unquestioning and is proudly his guiding force for everything he does in life and work. As the Prime Minister of a secular country like Australia, that is a deeply worrying truth.
Over the weekend, Morrison reportedly asked a national conference of Christian churches to help him help Australia, suggesting that he and his wife Jenny had been sent to complete the work of God.
Footage from the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast, shows Morrison declaring that he had sought a sign from God during the 2019 election campaign, and that he practised the evangelical ritual of “laying-on of hands” — an act of prayer or blessing upon fellow human-beings as prime minister. He also referred to the proliferation and corrosive impacts of social media as the work of “the evil one” in reference to the devil.
‘You’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle’
According to Morrison, the symbol of an eagle was sent to him from God to encourage his campaign for the prime ministership.
“I must admit I was saying to myself, ‘You know, Lord, where are you, where are you? I’d like a reminder if that’s OK,’” Morrison says.
“And there, right in front of me, was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle that I could imagine and of course the verse hit me.
“The message I got that day was, ‘Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary, you’ve got to walk to not grow faint, you’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle.’”
An act of deception
Australia is a secular country. Our neutrality on religion is a defining characteristic of our democracy, our way of life and our celebrated multiculturalism. It makes our country more inclusive.
Morrison’s evangelical acceptance of the ‘word of God’ could be deeply problematic for policy.
As an example, how does this influence Australia’s position toward climate change action? Does Morrison’s reluctance to commit to ambitious emissions reduction targets stem from his ingrained belief that this is God’s work? That if the world collapses, eco systems erode and people die, it’s all just par for the course?
And what about the PM’s open admission that he uses his faith to inform his work as Prime Minister? That he deceives Australians by blessing them in the guise of acts of comfort and solidarity?
“I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people … laying hands on them and praying in various situations,” he told his congregation on the Gold Coast, referencing a visit to Kalbarri in the Pilbara in the wake of Cyclone Seroja.
What if those people that the Prime Minister was covertly blessing, rejected that act? What if such a ritual actually caused them offence? This admission exposes Scott Morrison’s arrogance and ego. Most alarmingly, it exposes his obvious preoccupation with foisting his faith upon others irrespective of whether they’d want or appreciate it.
It begs the question: Have we elected Scott Morrison to lead us or the pentecostal church?