Scott Morrison's blind devotion to his religious beliefs has had an influence on various Liberal policies including climate change denialism, writes John Wren.
LAST WEEK, I wrote about how the Liberal Party’s core climate change denialism has impacted policy that has, in turn, exacerbated, possibly even created this year’s bushfire crisis. This week I explore this further looking at how Scott Morrison’s Pentecostal belief system has influenced his denialism and the effect that those beliefs have on other Liberal Party policies. Morrison is not the only Pentecostal in the Liberal Party — other co-religionists include Stuart Robert, the Minister for the NDIS, Steve Irons, Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough.
The infiltration of the Liberal Party by religious fundamentalists is not new. Prior to the last State Election, the Victorian branch was actively recruiting members from evangelical sects and the Mormons. It ultimately led to the wholesale rejection of the party at the ballot box. The Labor landslide was so big, it will likely keep them out of power in Victoria for at least another decade.
It had a similar effect in Western Australia. But only at the Federal level have they attained government and the means to overtly and covertly implement their religious ideology as political policy.
Let’s look at a few core Pentecostal beliefs and their impact on Liberal Party policy.
Prosperity theology: This is the belief (at complete odds to the teachings of Jesus Christ) that personal wealth is the end result of Godliness. If one works hard and leads a God-fearing moral life, then prosperity will follow. The corollary of this is that wealthy people are the most saintly and less well-off people are being punished by God for their alleged indolence and immorality. Hillsong and its attendant franchises are strong proponents of this abomination of Christian values. Morrison’s own Church, Horizon (formerly Shire Live), is affiliated with Hillsong.
How does prosperity theology impact Liberal Party policy? Because adherents believe that the less well-off are only that way because they are lazy and lead immoral lives, then the provision of welfare is seen as an anathema. Why give them money if all they need do is pray and work harder? This means that increasing Newstart, for example, will never happen under a Liberal government.
Prosperity theology also means that wealthy people are feted and celebrated. It means tithing is rife within Pentecostal churches. Tithing is the giving back to the church a proportion of one’s income (usually 10 per cent) so that it can be spent supposedly on “good works”. The wealthier one is, the more one gives and the more they are celebrated. Please note the term “good works”. As mentioned above, they do not focus much on charity. Good works usually means money for expansion of the church, recruitment of new members, missions and so on. Not to mention the lavish lifestyle church pastors themselves live. Of course, the church’s tax-free status assists with this.
A judgemental God: Like wealth discussed above, many Pentecostals believes that health and wellbeing is the end result of leading a Godly life. Again, this implies that those who are disabled, physically or mentally ill are not leading moral lives and are thus being punished or tested by God. Many believe in faith healing, the laying on of hands to cure a variety of maladies. In terms of political philosophy, this means that the Government should not be funding medical care or the NDIS, as the provision of medical care could be seen as interfering in “God’s will”.
Morrison appointed fellow Pentecostal Stuart Robert – also a former Canberra housemate of his – Minister for the NDIS. This appointment is an insult to every disabled person and their carers in Australia. It explains why the NDIS is seen as a pool of funds to be allocated at will to other causes — money was stripped from the NDIS to fund drought recovery. In effect, the Government is using the sick, disabled and their carers to pay for subsidies to drought-affected communities. They would rather do this than wind back franking credit refunds for the wealthy. Remember the wealthy — they are rich because they lead sainted lives.
The NDIS has also been deliberately underspent this year to help effect the faux surplus promised in the 2019 election. We learned this week that over 1,200 people died while waiting for assistance from the NDIS. Robert flat-out denied the readily available statistic. We can only conclude that lying is also a core tenet of Pentecostalism.
Pentecostalism and climate change: Many Pentecostals believe that the only entity capable of affecting climate change is God. Therefore, anthropogenic (man-made) climate change doesn’t exist. Putting measures in place to address climate change would, therefore, be a waste of time and money and interfering with God’s will. Further, many adherents believe that resources were put on Earth by God for humans to use — such as timber from trees, coal and oil. If one holds this belief, then not utilising those God-given resources would be an insult to God. Clearly, this is one of the core influences in Scott Morrison’s climate change denialism and his profound unwillingness to give up fossil fuels.
To give an indication of how pervasive this is, the Pastor of Hobart’s C3 Church – another Hillsong affiliate – Lucas Jocometti, was actively campaigning to turn Tasmania’s pristine inland wilderness are into an oilfield. It is evident that Pentecostal churches are content to leave global ecological issues up to God. They believe that God loves humans and, ultimately, humans can do what they like with natural resources because God will take care of the global climate. An excellent article on this can be found here.
As can be seen from the above examples, with Morrison at its head, the current Liberal Party Government will not act on climate change but will continue to run down Medicare and the NDIS, the less fortunate and battlers will continue to be punished for their supposed indolence and lack of faith. We have seen hundreds of charities rise to the occasion over the last few weeks to help those affected by bushfires. Few, if any, have come from Pentecostal sources.
The head of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has said the church will be praying for rain. He says Hillsong ‘will work through our Network churches in the affected regions to identify some of the families that may need longer-term recovery support as they seek to rebuild their lives’. In other words, their charity only extends to their own members. Nice, huh?
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