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Know your place; we were born to rule (part 2) – Morrison and the religious connection

“But the Bible justifies the abundance of poverty and the “money shower” the government pushes from the poor onto the rich is immoral.”

This was the ‘question’ my unidentified Facebook friend posed.

In Part 1, and in my recent writing I have been trying to explain the concept of religion and politics working hand in hand in an Australian, or indeed an American context.

Pentecostals were some of Donald Trump’s earliest religious supporters and now view his election as the fulfilment of God’s will.

George W. Bush was also embraced by politically conservative Christians because he had a much-documented mid-life experience of being born again, and spoke about God and Jesus as though it was second nature to him.

This was all very acceptable in a country that places belief in God before any appreciation of science.

One should not, however, fall into the trap of thinking they were as one in their faith. Bush saw it as his religion. Trump liked it because it embraced the prosperity gospel, which Americans sometimes refer to as a “health and wealth” theology.

They believe that God rewards faith with good health and financial success.

Now in Australia, we are confronted with a Pentecostal born again Prime Minister in Scott Morrison who the flock sees as God’s answer to much fervent prayer. No less, a miracle.

That he would have genuine asylum seekers incarcerated on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere indefinitely, never having committed a crime, bothers his fellow Christians, not in the slightest.

That he would pray on the same platform with a pastor who is guilty of protecting another who was guilty of committing acts of pedophilia matters not.

These are born again Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians who believe God still speaks to people through tongues, visions, prayer, prophecies and is still actively involved in the lives of people and arranging the world’s affairs.

The picture of Scott Morrison praying with 21,000 worshippers at a Hillsong convention, when he promised to govern for all made me feel decidedly uncomfortable.

There are many things wrong with the image of a PM trying to preach politics to his constituents from a pulpit when we are a secular country. Particularly when Hillsong is attached to the Pentecostalism prosperity movement. Its senior Pastor Brian Houston who wrote, “You need more money” (1999), urges readers to discover God’s “amazing financial plan” for their lives.

Most of these churches originate from the Assemblies of God Church. In my experience, they preach to a youth market who tend to drop away as they get older.

Again in my experience, they are not only taught a prosperity doctrine but also a power of positive thinking theology with an emphasis on abundant and prosperous living within Pentecostalism.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

Until the arrival of the second-rate actor Ronald Reagan, Evangelical churches had taken little interest in politics. He invoked their support and upon victory rewarded them with educational and charitable programs and the money to complete them.

Since then, the born again churches have been significantly involved in politics and elections and for the very first time, conservatives found themselves very much married to the Evangelicals.

Now it is happening in Australia with the Liberal Party recruiting members from Evangelical churches.

When America gets the flu we at least catch a cold, so the saying goes.

But the Bible justifies the abundance of poverty and the “money shower” the government pushes from the poor onto the rich is immoral.

Today, 39.2 per cent of Australians had no religion in the last census – outscoring all other groups.

Well except for the fictional Jedi faith (not recognised as an official religion) had 48,000 dedicated followers. So based on these figures we are not a Christian Country.

Now allow me to address the third part of the question posed by my unknown observer.

I believe that a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

Yet again let me put on my “in my experience” hat on.

Pentecostal churches don’t see their mission in life as looking after the poor. Their mission is saving souls for Christ. Jesus said he would not come again until the Gospel is preached to all the peoples of the world.

Along the way, they preach a gospel of wealth and make megabucks from tithes books, CD, videos other promotional material. And it’s all tax-free, costing our coffers $500 million annually.

Looking after the poor is the mission of the Salvos, Uniting Church, World Vision, Compassion Australia, Australian Red Cross and the Anglican Church. Four of the top five churches in Australia are mainstream church-based. What wonderful work they do. Pentecostals take no part.

So my answer to the writer’s question is that the Bible does not in any way justify the abundance of poverty in the world today.

To the contrary, there are literally dozens of scriptures obligating us to attend to the sick, the poor, and those in need of our help.

There are other scriptures that speak of wealth and to those who have obtained it, that they have a duty of care to those in the community who need help.

You may ask why a benevolent God doesn’t do more to help, but that is a question for another day.

Yes, Jesus was the world’s first socialist.

How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty?

Pentecostals and others of the same ilk invented the gospel of wealth in order to make money, believing the more money they had the more souls they would reach. In doing so they have made millions but at the same time have brought their faith into disrepute.

Morrison’s 3rd round of tax cuts is but one illustration of supporting the privileges of those who have had a go and succeeded. But has he considered if those not on the list had an equal opportunity?

We pay taxes to form a society. If we pay more the better society we get.

And of course, there are those on the threadbare Newstart allowance who must be punished for their tardiness in not getting a job. I wonder if our PM has looked at how many wanted the same job. Last time I looked it was 19.

So on the last point, I cannot find any scripture justifying the “money shower” the government pushes from the poor onto the rich.

Author’s note: If the person who posed the questions to me could identify himself I would be most grateful.

My thought for the day

When asked as to my belief or otherwise in God, or indeed my atheist contemplations, I can only say that I am in a perpetual state of observation. Just looking. I prefer not to be labelled as anything, really.

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15 comments

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  1. Terence Mills

    Oh what a tangled web we weave………. !

    After repeated denials from Peter Dutton, his department and from AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin that they had not liaised over the AFP raids on the ABC and the home of journalist Annika Smethurts, the electronic trail has shown – as many suspected – that they were lying.

    “Text messages obtained by BuzzFeed News under freedom of information laws revealed that AFP deputy commissioner Neil Gaughan tipped off Dutton’s chief of staff, Craig Maclaughlan on 10 October, the day before the raid.

    “That warrant activity will now be first thing tomorrow morning,” Gaughan said.

    “Thanks mate – this arvo also fine,” Maclaughlan replied.”

    Not only was Dutton’s department intimately involved in the planning of these raids but, it seems from the choice of words used by Dutton’s Chief of Staff that Home Affairs were orchestrating the raids.

    If Dutton continues to insist that he knew nothing about the raids, it would suggest that either his department are wilfully keeping him out of the loop or that he is again telling us lies. If the former, we need to be very concerned about a rogue government department that is without oversight. Whatever the case, Dutton must go.

  2. Phil

    It was obvious from a couple of polling booths I visited in the recent election, that the Pentecostals were used to hand out how to vote cards. In the seat Hastie represents in WA, it was quite obvious. The two booths I visited had young men in their early twenties well dressed short back and sides with the added touch of carrying a bible under one arm. They pounced on my wife and I like a couple of starving Lions. The gentleman who was handing out the Labor party cards was playing his part well, he looked like a bag of shit tied in the middle.

    It was obvious in my seat that the campaign was run like a well oiled machine. Every detail was taken care of, even the numerous placards that were placed on the road side verge, were all placed plumb and the same distance from the edge of the bitumen. The bunting used at the polling booths looked something akin to a local football final. It was obvious over the last few weeks of the election campaign certain methods were employed to help win the seat and I don’t think it had much to do with praying.

  3. Keitha Granville

    We MUST do everything we can to separate the state from the church – again.

    There is no issue with anyone who wants to have a faith, good luck to them, but don’t ram it down my throat and DON’T use it to beat the disadvantaged over the head.

    Some days I really wish there was a god, because for sure he would be smiting people all over the place for taking his name in vain. And bring on the second coming of Jesus, there’s another whole bunch of “money lenders ” in the temple he needs to toss out in the street.

    Just let’s think for a moment what the world would be like right now if there was NO religion.

  4. wam

    It is always lovely to hit the pool after a good giggle. ‘Faith into disrepute’ hahaha
    Showing your protestant upbringing by leaving out the collingwood connection from your list??
    Have you made any sense out of old matt?:
    ‘“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”’
    Then after reflection in the freezer, I realise the crow is right. I love trolling the ‘faithered’.christian mostly because, contrary to your thought, in my life experience almost all white and all black people are christian, (I have few jews or muslims in my contacts but I have ‘opinions’ and use
    It began with the howard’s faith followers whom I’d bait with ‘my three howard achievements are WoMD, selling gold and children overboard. What are your three?’ If these are christian men you need to suss out and escape route because when faith is in the air desperate avoidance of challenge to that faith can easily invoke violence.
    ps
    Lord, pentacostals et al are good at using modern methods of gathering cash but when do you think jingles like:
    as soon as the coin in the coffer rings the soul from purgatory springs’ started?
    The folau thing bypasses purgatory styles and zips straight to hell. Seems the christian lobby might have bitten off more that it can chew with backing this weird church. and didn’t it show how heaven and homos can generates cash??
    pps notice a shiny black in a great win over the crows??? The Aborigines may have been unseen in Melbourne but were legally excluded in perth. Have a look at the ‘Coolbaroo Club’.

  5. Kerri

    Schwartz media have a podcast called 7AM. It is well worth listening to. The episode titled “Understanding Scott Morrison’s Pentecostalism” is instructive.
    Elizabeth Kulas, the host, interviews an ex Pentecostal woman who explains the prosperity faith very clearly..

  6. Patricia

    “Pentecostal churches don’t see their mission in life as looking after the poor. Their mission is saving souls for Christ. Jesus said he would not come again until the Gospel is preached to all the peoples of the world.”

    I would have thought that by looking after the poor they, the poor, would be so grateful that they would welcome the word of the lord and be saved.

    The Pentacostalists have missed a great opportunity to recruit the poor into their flock, if they just showed an ounce of humanity towards those who are less blessed than them they would find that they have a fertile ground in which to sow their beliefs.

    But as with all closed minded endeavours their focus is on reeling in the well heeled and the wealthy because that brings more tithes into the church and the Pentecostal movement is not about being humane but by the church and those who run it being rich in money and material things but poor in morals and humanity.

    What it really is is a cult, that takes advantage of those who follow it, until the followers realise that they are being had as many do, as they mature and realise that the only interest the elders of the church have is in getting their hands on the funds of their followers.

  7. Aortic

    How good is God eh? Raising up wonderful governments headed by Trump ( who couldn’t quote a verse from the bible even if you offered him a deal on Big Macs) Morrison whose mentor is Brian Houston ( a mega rich snake oil salesman) and he looks like raising up Boris Johnson whose principles seem to change from week to week depending on the interviewer. But at least he does make buses out of old wooden boxes with passengers inside which does adhere to an old bible verse I think but cannot recall it now. Now if God had said I favoured M/S Ardern or Mr. Andrews I may have to reevaluate my thinking but until then I will stick with WTF are you thinking God?

  8. Lord John

    John we can not have you floating out there aimlessly not taking a side,club or subgroup.It’s just not cricket.You will be going to hell if

    you can’t find some sort of religion.Repent now my son.

  9. margcal

    “All Christians” are not like Pentecostals. You need to sharpen your powers of observation, John.
    And/Or never again quote the example of a Christian to support any argument/s you try to make.

  10. Wendi

    Sometimes I tune into Foxtel’s “Christian” channels to see what’s going on and it never ceases to amaze me what these fundamentalists and evangelicals are preaching. These televangelists with their arms raised and showman like preaching look like game show hosts with their captive audiences duped into giving and buying the merchandise to keep the coffers filled. The jingoistic music with its dumbed down words is a turn off as well. But the belief that God will heal physical ailments is what angers me the most. If you don’t get healed, you are not praying hard enough, or tithing enough. And if it doesn’t happen straight away, give God time, but keep praying and keep giving. They always trot out a miracle that has happened, and the one they spoke of was a woman whose son was diagnosed as having autism, who was miraculously cured to the point where he could suddenly speak normally, look people in the eye, and stopped his obsessive behaviour of lining things up. This all happened instantly after a faith healer prayed for him. I don’t like to use the word demonic, but what I see just looks so fake and the preachers are fake with their made for TV plastic surgery, Botox and their torn jeans to look cool.
    The nephew of televangelist Benny Hinn has written a book “God, Greed and the Prosperity Gospel” which is an eye opener to the inner workings of these multi millionaire televangelists. He said he came face to face with the hypocrisy and devastation caused by his belief system and has abandoned the family faith to expose the lies and share the true gospel. It looks like an interesting read but nothing I don’t already know.

  11. Florence Howarth

    It is true. When one is simply not a believer, they are not anything.

    All Christians appear to be supporting Pentecostals, even when their beliefs contradict theirs.

    Why?

  12. Nedi

    Scripture shows Morrison is married to the whore of the earth – Horison Church / Whore-Risen Church that seeks after the riches of the earth and slays the saints spiritually cheating them of their salvation

  13. RosemaryJ36

    The saddest and most frustrating (IMHO) aspect of all this religiosity is its refusal to acknowledge facts revealed by scientific research. To rely on the bible or whatever religious record is appropriate for your ‘faith’ is to ignore a wealth of much more relevant information acquired over the last 2000 years!
    And blindness to science, leading to refusal to accept the urgent need for action on the climate emergency, is to deny our grandchildren the quality of life we now take for granted.

  14. John Lord

    Lord John. Lord of the middle earth.
    Wendi Try some You Tube clips of Benny.
    Margcal No I don’t. I attended the Uniting Church for 5 or so years. They have an appreciation of science and openness.

    Thanks for all your comments. Varied and thoughtful.

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