Scott Morrison attended a Pentecostal national convention on the Gold Coast last week, at which he shared with those gathered his belief that he and wife Jenny have been “called to do God’s work”.
Our right to choose our belief systems is one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy. It is not an exclusive privilege of those who see themselves as religious. This is why there is a clear separation of church and state built into our Constitution.
Scott Morrison chose to attend a Pentecostal convention (incorrectly described as a "church gathering" by some media) as is his personal right. However – and let’s be perfectly clear – he chartered a VIP RAAF flight to take him there in style and he did so at our expense, despite this being a personal jaunt. We know it was personal because it was not listed in his official schedule or displayed on his website or social media channels — as the PM is prone to do with any and all official appearances, complete with suitable photo ops. Nor was a transcript of his speech made available.
The Prime Minister’s attendance at this event later became known through unofficial channels, which indicates that he actively concealed it.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the appearance was not out of the ordinary and that:
'The Prime Minister was invited to address Tuesday night’s event the same as he attends many other stakeholder events, including for other religious groups such as the Copts, Maronites, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim.
Really? Do prime ministers routinely charter RAAF jets to attend all stakeholder events, including unofficial ones? And who are the "stakeholders" here? This event was a religious convention of the Pentecostal variety — that’s the one to which the PM belongs. It's also where his big supporters/donors are and where, we can presume, Morrison would be counting on monetary support for his political campaign. Hardly your garden variety prime ministerial event attendance.
Nonetheless, many in the mainstream media (shocker) jumped to his defence, chastising those of us who may find this decidedly not in our national interests, as evidence of our intolerance.
While we may be nonchalant about the religious beliefs of ordinary Australians, our prime minister’s religion does interest us and Scott Morrison’s brand of religion is of particular interest. This is because he has stated on the record that he is overwhelmingly guided by his Pentecostal belief system. It affects all his decisions — which affect all of us.
It is important to note here that the PM’s Pentecostal religion is also not conventional, as we have previously detailed on IA. Even among religious circles, this mega-church, prosperity doctrine-style of faith is seen as extreme. This is because, by modern standards, it is extreme.
A cursory read through the Pentecostal brand of worship reveals such things as routinely speaking in tongues and conversing directly with God. Noting this as unconventional is not being intolerant, it is simply stating fact.
Extreme leaps of faith aside, the statements made by the PM at the recent Gold Coast event are disturbing on their own.
During his address, the PM called on the congregation to “raise up the spiritual weapons” and help him fight the “evil one”, which he personified as "social media" and what he termed, "identity politics". Now, we know at least one of his MPs (Andrew Laming) did use social media for stalking, bullying and other unsavoury, possibly "evil" activities. But if the Devil is hiding within social media, why, then, is the Prime Minister now using it as his preferred method of communication?
As Morrison quoted the Bible and discussed how he had been doing "God's work", alongside "Brother Stuey" (AKA Employment Minister Stuart Robert) his appearance was, let's be frank, a lay preacher’s sermon rather than a PM's address. The enlightening sermon revealed that while Morrison has been travelling around Australia visiting unsuspecting disaster victims, he has, in fact, secretly been praying for their souls and "laying hands" on them for "healing" purposes.
Seriously? If any other person had admitted to such bizarre practises or exhibited such a messianic self-belief complex, would the media be needing to normalise them by telling the rest of us that we need to be more tolerant?
Extreme religions aside, it is not part of this, or any other, prime minister’s job description to take tax-payer funded flights to indulge their religious proclivities. Using those opportunities to further their own personal and political ends, particularly when they involve proselytising the general populace, should alarm us all.
This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. You may read the full version of this article online in the IA members-only area.
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