Weekend Wrap for 2 May 2021

A leaked video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking to a Pentecostal conference dominates this edition of the Weekend Wrap. We’ve ordered the articles based on the most recent developments.

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At the National Level

A Morrison government minister revealed yesterday they are “very uncomfortable” with the Pentecostal activity happening within the government, saying that religious politicians should “leave it in the church” (Sky News).

In a radio interview on Friday, the Prime Minister rejected the suggestion that he believes God chose him for the role and hit back at commentators criticising him for his speech at the conference (The Guardian).

In a speech to a Jewish community event on Thursday night, the Prime Minister doubled down on his critique of identity politics, arguing that belief in human dignity leads to the conclusion that people matter ‘individually’ rather than for group attributes such as sex, race or religion (The Australian).

In an interview on the 7.30 Report on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned that for a leader of a political party to believe God was on their side was “just the stuff of real danger” (ABC)

During a Wednesday interview on Sky News in which he repeatedly touched the host, Employment Minister Stuart Robert, who is a Pentecostal Christian and close political ally of Scott Morrison, praised the Prime Minister for practising the Pentecostal tradition of ‘laying on of hands’ (The Guardian).

On Tuesday, Meredith Doig of the Rationalist Society of Australia told the Bolt Report that a lot of Australians are feeling “deeply uncomfortable with the degree of intertwining between religion and politics” (Sky News).

On Tuesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he respected people's spiritual beliefs but also affirmed the importance of upholding a separation between church and state (SBS).

On Monday, a video had emerged of Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling a Christian conference: he believed he and his wife had been called upon to do God’s work; identity politics were a danger; the misuse of social media was due to the work of the ‘evil one’; and he practices ‘laying on of hands’ when he comforts people following emergencies (The Guardian).

Senator Amanda, who is a member of the government’s conservative faction and religious Right flank, has been relegated to third spot on the Liberal-National Party’s Queensland Senate ticket for the next election, putting her seat in the parliament in jeopardy (Out in Perth).

Secondary school students will learn that Australia is a “culturally diverse, multi-faith, secular and pluralistic society with diverse communities”, especially First Nations people, instead of being one with a ‘Christian heritage’, according to revised national curriculum documents (The Australian).

The Church of Scientology is targeting social media advertisements at readers of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald after those publications recently revealed the church had shifted tens of millions of dollars into Australia from offshore and was making significant tax-free profits (The Age).

Around the Country

Commentary and Analysis

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warns that the Liberal-National Party’s recruitment drive targeting Pentecostal Christians is pushing that party further and further to the political hard right (The Guardian).

Knowing the answers to the limits of Scott Morrison’s religious literalism is important because it is relevant to understanding how the Prime Minister deliberates and conducts his public duties (The Guardian).

Niki Savva explores the role of the Prime Minister’s faith in his rise to the top job and considers the political calculations for Labor in the wake of the speech video (The Australian).

While Scott Morrison is not the first Australian prime minister to hold religious beliefs or talk publicly about them, he is unusual for expressing a direct sense of divine calling to the office, argues religion historian Professor Marion Maddox (The Guardian).

David Crowe argues it would have been better if Prime Minister’s speech had not been kept secret but that some of the reaction has been disrespectful (SMH).

On the Please Explain podcast, David Crowe and Tory Maguire discuss religion in politics in the wake of the speech video (SMH).

On the 7am podcast, Paul Bongioro says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech has given Australians a window into the soul that he has otherwise tried to keep shut (7am).

David Hardaker writes that the presence of the Prime Minister and other government leaders at the Australian Christian Churches conference is proof of the outsize influence of Pentecostal Christianity and the power of the Seven Mountains mandate in action (Crikey).

In decoding the Prime Minister’s speech, David Hardaker writes that it contained a mashup of Pentecostal stories, grand prophecies and Bible references (Crikey).

As Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has toed a narrow line in promising that his government’s policies will not be driven by his religious faith, but he may have just crossed that line, writes Michael Bradley (Crikey).

John Sandeman, whose own Eternity News media outlet last year leaked a video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison taking part in a private group prayer, writes that the Rationalist Society of Australia released the latest video to make the Prime Minister look bad (Eternity News).

While the idea that your Prime Minister is praying for you might surprise some, it is a humble act, writes John Sandeman (Eternity News).

While a victory for Senator Amanda Stoker in the contest for the top of the Liberal-National Party’s election ticket would have demonstrated the clout of the Christian Right, suspicion lingers that her perceived embrace of the religious section of the party was more about the numbers than conviction, writes Jamie Walker (The Australia).

That's it for another week!

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