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The mates in faith that Scott Morrison admires

In 2008, Scott Morrison used his first speech in parliament to tell us how he had been “greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders”, specifically mentioning “pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Coleman.”

Most people are aware of Brian Houston, leader of the Hillsong Church, after he was censured by the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse for his failure to report to authorities his father’s confessed serial sexual abuse of children, and for the grave conflict of interest in dealing with the sex claims himself.

This is the man that Scotty wanted to bring to dinner at the White House.

But you may not be aware of Leigh Coleman, another former Hillsong executive who, two years before Scotty’s confession of admiration, was investigated for allegedly ripping off government funded Indigenous charities, as reported by The Australian.

“The Government has admitted that Hillsong Emerge chief Leigh Coleman received $80,000 of federal indigenous development funds to top up his salary, despite having only indirect involvement in the projects.

It also paid Hillsong Emerge $82,500 to fit out its office in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. Mr Coleman uses the office to run the Christian Business Directory, which touts for advertising worth up to $2000 an item.

The new material shows Mr Coleman received $80,000 in annual salary for his part in administering two indigenous business development programs. Hillsong Emerge’s federal funding in both programs, by Indigenous Business Australia, was discontinued this year after revelations in federal parliament that only a tiny portion of the millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money reached the Aboriginal community.

The vast majority of the funds went to employing Hillsong Emerge staff, including $315,000 to cover the salaries of seven workers in Redfern.

In one year, the program made just six “micro-enterprise development” loans to Aborigines, which were worth an average of $2856 each.

The discontinuation of the IBA funding programs came only weeks after Hillsong Emerge was stripped of a separate $415,000 federal grant for community crime prevention.

Liberal MP Louis Markus, a Hillsong church member who once worked with Mr Coleman, won the seat of Greenway in Sydney’s northwest at the last election with the campaign support of Hillsong members. Labor MPs have alleged in federal parliament that the commonwealth grants to Hillsong Emerge were a reward for Hillsong’s political support.”

Five years later and Mr Coleman was in the news again with this article from

“A CHRISTIAN charity which has so far spent more than $1.3 million to generate just $330,000 in loans for Indigenous Australians is being investigated.

Many Rivers Microfinance is run by a former Hillsong executive who has already come under parliamentary scrutiny over an earlier loans program that delivered only a trickle of funds to the Indigenous community.

In 2006 Leigh Coleman’s operation at Hillsong Emerge – the evangelical group’s former benevolent arm – had its funding discontinued after revelations the vast majority of taxpayer dollars went to employing staff.

Mr Coleman’s current program at Many Rivers has since successfully raised millions of dollars from the Federal Government and some of the country’s biggest companies including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Westpac.

But since its inception in 2007 to the end of the 2010 financial year the latest available records show it has delivered just 74 microenterprise loans worth a total of $330,000.

While declining to provide evidence as to how the reported $1.375 million had been spent delivering them, the charity said that – like the discontinued Hillsong pilot – the bulk had gone on staff salaries and training.

A presentation delivered by Many Rivers to potential donors, and obtained by, claimed a single field officer in a “developing regional community” would cost the charity $250,000 to support per year.

Since 2010, Many Rivers has obtained an additional $1 million from the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, $522,000 from the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace relations and more from the West Australian Government.

Westpac Bank has provided $1 million over five years as well as all loan capital since mid-2010. Other private donors include Transfield, Fortescue Metals Group, Chevron, Woodside Petroleum and Exxon Mobil as well as law firms Blake Dawson and Minter Ellison.

As CEO of Many Rivers, Mr Coleman has been paid an undisclosed amount for his services on a contract basis since the charity’s creation as a legal entity in 2007 through his private firm Looking Glass Holdings, which he runs with his wife Vera.

These services were never put out to tender. Vera Coleman was listed as a member of the company in the 2007-2008 financial statements.

Vera Coleman is also a former Hillsong Pastor and, according to her CV on the Looking Glass Trust website, worked for Hillsong Emerge between 1996 and 2007 and helped initiate the pilot for the Redfern component of Hillsong’s microfinance program which her husband oversaw until it had funding cancelled.

She also helped develop the controversial “Shine” program for young women which was criticised for teaching young women self esteem through learning how to apply make-up, style their hair and walk with books balanced on their heads.”

Nikki Sava’s book, Plots and Prayers, reveals that Scotty and his fellow Pentecostal and close friend and numbers man Stuart Robert, prayed that “righteousness would exalt the nation,” in the minutes before Mr Morrison was made prime minister by the Liberal party room. “…righteousness would mean the right person had won,” Mr Robert told Savva.

Independent Australia have an excellent article revisiting the ‘litany of transgressions’ by the righteous Stuart Robert. It’s a long list but it didn’t stop Scotty from promoting his mate in faith.

Pentecostalism is on the rise in Australia, particularly with the young.

“Australia’s largest churches in every capital city and in the regions are all Pentecostal churches,” said Andrew Singleton, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Research at Deakin University.

“Starting with Hillsong in Sydney and churches in Melbourne and Adelaide like Planet Shakers, Riverside Church, Paradise Church are all Pentecostal.

“More people are attending Pentecostal churches than any other Christian denomination, they put bums on seats.”

If people are not concerned about the deliberate infiltration of politics by conservatives with religious backing, they should be, particularly when they are preaching their “prosperity doctrine” to our youth and our politicians.


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  1. John O'Callaghan

    These psychos for Christ are very dangerous people and must be eliminated from Government from what ever side of politics they belong to. ……

  2. Keitha Granville

    Leave Christ out of it, he would be horrified. These organisations are EXACTLY the same as those he fought against.

    They have zero to do with Christianity, and should have ZERO to do with running a country.

  3. Terence Mills

    I see that Trump has threatened to annihilate 52 cultural and historical sites in Iran. Presumably this plays well with the evangelical Christian base who see Trump as the second coming : getting more like Life of Bwyan every day.

    I imagine that the sites that Trump is hoping to bomb are Islamic cultural and holy sites as well as those important to the historical and archaeological culture of human kind.

    Isn’t this why we have maintained a secular separation between Church and State. Can we really afford religious nuts in positions of power [rhetorical questions] ?

  4. DrakeN

    I repeat my conviction that:

    “Religions are the most successful, longest running confidence tricks ever imposed on humanity.”

    Keitha; there is no historical evidence that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels ever existed.

    In fact:

    “In the entire first Christian century Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet.
    His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence.
    Zero! Zip references!”
    [Dr. Bart Ehrman – Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.]

  5. DrakeN

    “I see that Trump has threatened to annihilate 52 cultural and historical sites in Iran.”

    ISIS copy-cat?

  6. corvus boreus

    I just hope that Scott from marketing has a few people around him who are PR-savvy enough to see that deploying the ADF to help Trump vindictively vandalise historic Persian artefacts might not play particularly well at the moment.

  7. New England Cocky

    @Keitha: Something about overturning the tables of the moneychangers comes to mind.

    @DrakeN et al: Definitely ISIS copycat approach ….. but don’t interfere with the oil wells or oil infrastructure.

    @Cv: Now you know that the present is more important than the past so destroying the Persian artefacts would simply revise history to show that Trumpery was more stupid than the Romans.

  8. corvus boreus

    We have already shown that we are incompetent imbeciles compared to the Romans.
    Some of their ‘sporting’ arenas are still standing after two and a bit millennia.
    The ones we build these day are lucky to last more than 30 years.

  9. Ian Bayly

    Yes, Scomo’s Pentecostalism has very dangerous implications not only for Australia but also the world at large.This was pointed out in a letter that I had published immediately after the federal election on 18/5/19, and this issue (including a link to that letter) is further explored in the following link:

    Heeding the Cry of the Earth: Hope from the Pope but Pap from Pentecostals

  10. pierre wilkinson

    If they want to play at politics, then they should pay their taxes
    wonder how Hillsong would go if there was a RC into Organised Religion for profit
    welcome to the new year

  11. Arthur Tarry

    The article in Independent Australia about Roberts is well worth a read as an exemplar of the type of people Morrison associates with, and tolerates.

  12. David Evans

    What a sad country this has become, what with murdoch and his molls electing their own governments, in return for tax rorts, donations of taxpayers money dinner guests and holiday homes. Corruption in is simplest form.

  13. John

    Hillsong is of course very much part of the showbiz tradition of P T Barnum – there are of course thousands of suckers born every minute.
    At another and related level the Hillsong phenomenon and the dozens (hundreds) of USA equivalents are just a modern day extension of the USA circus tent “revivalist” tradition. The purpose of which was to fleece the flock of gullible true believers and thereby enrich the owner(s) of the circus tent.
    Unfortunately this phenomenon is becoming quite scary in the USA as there is an increasing hysterical increase of the ‘jesus is “king” movement. A movement which is by its very nature intolerant of all other religious and secular persuasions, including christians of a more liberal/progressive persuasion.

  14. Aortic

    As Bill Maher retorted when confronted by another nutcase prophesying Jesus return, “. What’s he waiting for, why don’t you kill yourself?” The universal answer was God has a plan for me. Uh huh. Where is is plan when littlies die of unspeakable disease and his world tears itself apart, I was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren in Scotland and it took me years to disabuse myself of the nonsense. It is child abuse nothing less, we don’t want freedom of religion, we want freedom from religion.

  15. Matters Not

    Aortic, once worked with a man who was raised in an Exclusive Brethren household which ‘wanted out’. He related the rituals (plans) involved when there was an unexpected ‘knock on the door’. Whose task it was to hide the radio. Where it was to be hidden. What to say. And so on.

    Eventually he ‘escaped’ that environment – became academically qualified etc, worked in policy development, married, had children of his own – but he always remembered for years afterwards – what to do when there was an unexpected ‘knock on the door’.

    Left him with an uncontrollable nervous ‘tic’. And barely suppressed rage.

  16. wam

    christians and muslims are allowed to lie for the glory of god. That is a pretty good cop out position for scummo et al.
    The compadres of scummo have no problems making decisions within their faith without being questioned on their beliefs.
    Pierre perhaps it is time for the medicare levy to be applied to gross earnings and an extended medicare levy to be applied to all tax free earning.

  17. Zathras

    Although it qualifies for tax-free status. Hillsong is not really a religion. It’s a family business and money-driven cult loosely affiliated with Pentecostals. It’s as sinister as any of the TV Evangelists who prey on the gullible hustling for their money on US TV, insisting that donated “seed money” will return to them many times over and make them wealthy.

    The suitcases stuffed full of cash (“love offerings”) handed to Houston and Co after their speaking engagements are legendary and none of it tracked or taxable.

    As for Trump’s extremely provocative and timely assassination of a prominent Iranian, Clinton once delayed the House vote on his impeachment by launching an air strike against Iraq citing a military need to act swiftly.

    Desperate times demand desperate measures and these are indeed desperate times for Trump, borrowing from the playbook of former Presidents.

  18. Kaye Lee

    “PM Scott Morrison began attending services at Horizon Church in his constituency in 2007, the year he was first elected.”

    Rather than a damascene conversion, it appears Scott’s shift to the Pentecostals was an electoral strategy.

  19. Anarchy rules

    Always have known that the salvation of the your soul will cost you a lot of money and your powers of rational thinking .

  20. Lambchop Simnel

    What keitha granville says…

    Bleak miserable bastards out of a Dickens novel.

  21. Arthur Tarry

    If KL is correct, and I am inclined to think she is, then Morrison is ever the marketing man. Does that ring true ? Or was he seeking redemption for previous misdemeanors like being sacked and castigated ?

  22. Matters Not

    Thought this quote was apposite in the circumstances:

    “Pentecostalism is in fact the perfect faith for a conviction politician without convictions”.

    Then there’s this one from George Burns that seems relevant also:

    “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

    But the ‘sincerity’ bit is still a work in progress – given his recent failures.

  23. Brozza

    I noticed that most of the private ‘donors’ to the church of ‘$how me the money suckers’, are from the lying nazi party end of town.
    Banking, mining, oil, lawyers. I’m surprised there’s no ‘donations’ from the media industry, or perhaps meredick redacted that bit.
    Says it all really.
    In that ‘church’, the scum floats to the top like a toxic algal bloom.

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