Scott Morrison is Australia’s first Pentecostal prime minister. He is a member of the Horizon Church in Sutherland, which is part of the Australian Christian Churches network. He attends regularly. No one, including the author of this piece, would deny him the right to choose his religious affiliation, or to apply his Christian beliefs in his workplace.
What were disquieting though were the reactions and the proclamations of Pentecostal leaders about his ascension to prime ministership. Gareth Hutcheons wrote about this comprehensively in The Guardian, from which I quote extensively. Do play the video at the head of this article.
Last Sunday, pastor Adam F Thompson from the Voice of Fire Ministries and Adrian Beale from Everrest Ministries told a congregation at Hope City Church that “Morrison’s elevation to power was divinely inspired”, and warned that “darkness” will spread across Australia and Christians will be persecuted if Morrison does not win the next election.
Thompson, who claims that supernatural signs accompany his ministry and that he can interpret dreams, proclaimed that he’d received a message from God that Morrison and the Coalition must win the election. “The Lord woke me up at 4.30 am this morning.”
Thompson continued: “Scott Morrison, he’s a born-again Christian, he’s probably one of the first ever born-again prime ministers, but it’s not time to celebrate at the moment. This is a crucial time right now … In the next six months it’s time for the body of Christ to put its differences aside … and come together and agree that Jesus is the Messiah and start praying together for our prime minister, and for our government. I really see that the body of Christ is going to have influence in the political arena of this nation. (my emphasis).
Thompson was adamant: “…if the prime minister doesn’t get elected in this next election there’s going to be darkness coming. And I’m not being negative. The laws are going to change where darkness is going to come and there will be persecution on the church.”
He asked his congregation if they truly wanted a Pentecostal revival and reformation in Australia, and went on: “If it doesn’t happen in the next year…the laws are going to come in, where they’re going to change and darkness will come. The Lord is saying he wants us to rise up and pray, rather than come into persecution where we’ll have no choice.”
Beale from Everrest Ministries lead his congregation in prayer for Morrison, calling on God to help Australians grasp the value of his intervention in the leadership spill. “Just as Scott has come to the fore, unexpected Lord, you’ve kept him hidden for a time such as this…Lord, we pray that the whole of the body of Christ in Australia would grasp the value of what you’ve done, Lord, and get behind our new leader … and that the next election would be won so that godly principles would be put into place, rather than the enemy having his way.”
Another pastor, Warwick Marsh from the Australian Christian Values Institute claimed three days of prayer and fasting had been answered with two miracles. “Firstly the Senate voted down the euthanasia in the territories proposal. This was an absolute miracle. Secondly, the Liberal Party voted in a new prime minister, Scott Morrison, after a week of political turmoil… Many people here in Australia of faith believe this was a miracle of God. It would seem that this is a direct answer to our prayers, as we prayed against the erosion of our Christian freedoms under the forthcoming Ruddock report.”
Other Pentecostal leaders too declared that Morrison’s rise to power was a “miracle of God” that answered three days of prayer and fasting, and that God had intervened to ensure he defeated Peter Dutton in the leadership contest.
Morrison’s office says he has never met Thompson, Beale or Marsh.
Is that enough to alarm you? For the first time in decades, we see pastors of a church, in this case the Pentecostal Church, telling their congregations that the election of our new prime minister by the Liberal Party room was a ‘miracle’ of God, brought about by prayer, and that if he is not re-elected, darkness will descend on our nation, and the church. The clear message to their parishioners is: ‘Vote Morrison in again, or else!’
Those of you who are as old as I am will remember the political influence wielded by another cleric, Daniel Mannix, who was Archbishop of Melbourne from 1917 to 1963. He was notorious for his blatant attempts to inveigle his parishioners to vote the way he indicated. Mannix's best-known protégé in his later years was B. A. Santamaria, Tony Abbott’s idol. Mannix authorised Santamaria to form the Catholic Social Studies Movement, known as ‘The Movement’, to organise within the unions and defeat the Communists. The Movement was so successful in its efforts that by 1949 it had taken control of the Victorian branch of the Labor Party.
Mannix’s involvement in politics continued for many years. Eventually it was opposed by Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, and also by the Vatican which, in 1957, ruled that the Movement should not interfere in politics.
We’ve experienced before the downside of religious figures exerting political influence. It’s been a long while since the Mannix era, but it looks as if we may be in for a reprise, this time from the Pentecostal Churches.
Is that what we want? If not, we had better speak up!