1005.1 Our PM's Pentecostalism

Our Prime Minister is a Pentecostalist. In Pentecostalism only those who are baptised in the Spirit, who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved. Those who have not accepted Christ are “depraved and without spiritual life” and destined for eternal torment in the end times. Pentecostals are certain the end times are upon us.


Furthermore, it probably can be assumed that our PM believes climate change and our bush fires are God’s will. So …

Elizabeth Farrelly in the SMH, see my blog: 1006 Death-by-stupid

"A recent street poster picturing Morrison declaring Pentecostals for a Warmer Planet! may seem extreme, but Meritus Professor of Religious Thought, Philip C. Almond, explains why Morrison’s faith means “reducing carbon emissions ... may have little intellectual purchase with the PM” - because world’s end means the second coming and, for the chosen, salvation. It’s also why Morrison’s beloved Hillsong church can happily advertise its coming conference, called Breathe Again, with Bishop T D Jakes saying “it’s amazing how God can strike a match in Australia and the whole world catches on fire”. As if the fires were God given ..."


... What do we know about the prime minister’s Pentecostalism?


This is a reducted article in The Monthly, by James Boyce


In his first major speech as prime minister, Scott Morrison pointed to his heart and told Australians that “I’ve come to talk to you today about what’s in here”. But the truth is that Morrison has told the Australian public almost nothing about what his heartfelt beliefs actually are. Secrecy concerning his religious beliefs has characterised his political career. While the lack of disclosure reflects political self-interest, it is also a characteristic of Pentecostalism itself. 


Pentecostalism is obsessed with the Devil. “Satan” is not an abstract idea but a highly personal fallen angel who, through his ability to manipulate and direct nonbelievers, largely runs the “world”. To be baptised in the Spirit is to be personally conscripted into the struggle, intimately experienced in daily life, between the forces of good and ever-present evil.


The 24/7 cosmic drama is made more intense by the fact that the play is soon coming to an end. The Devil is powerful now but he is on the verge of defeat. Only God knows exactly when Jesus will return and banish Satan to Hell, but most Pentecostals are certain that the end times are upon us.


The statement affirms belief in “the personality of the devil, who, by his influence, brought about the downfall of man, and now seeks to destroy the faith of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ”. Those who have not accepted Christ are “depraved and without spiritual life” and destined for eternal torment. 


The contrast between those “consigned to everlasting punishment” and those whose names are to be “found written in the book of life” is absolute. As is the member churches’ certainty “in the premillennial, imminent and personal return of our Lord Jesus Christ” that will “set up his millennial reign on this earth”.


It needs to be emphasised that making nonbelievers so completely subject to Satan’s whims and wiles, seeing the end times in so certain terms, and ascribing this level of righteousness and sanctification to the saved is contrary to the teachings of the mainstream Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church.


It is difficult to accept that affable ScoMo believes in Satan (or even a south Sydney suburban version of him) and is in receipt of daily guidance from the Holy Spirit on how to confront the Devil’s wiles. But there is no evidence for the comforting assumption that age, politics and the struggle for power have moderated Morrison’s religious beliefs. 


The only argument that can be made for not considering the importance of Pentecostalism on public policy is the PM’s growing reluctance to publicly proclaim the importance of his faith to his political career. 


Whereas his personal biography formerly acknowledged Christianity as the “driving force” behind his belief and values, since 2013 (reportedly following the advice of his colleagues) it only admits that he attends his “local church”.


However, no one close to the PM has ever suggested his Christianity is actually less important to him than it used to be, or is any way fake or contrived.


Given Satan’s power in the world, those baptised in the Spirit understand that being careful about to whom their truth is conveyed is an essential strategy in the ongoing cosmic war.

Scrutiny on this matter is easily deflected by a practised hand. The ignorance about Pentecostalism among the general public is shared by politicians, journalists, writers, academics and commentators everywhere. 


The unsurprising truth is that an informed understanding of the PM’s political career is impossible without considering his religion. His ability to maintain an unflinching self-belief and sense of righteousness through the dramatic U-turns that have characterised his rise to power reflects a central paradox of Pentecostal dogma and practice. Pentecostalism is in fact the perfect faith for a conviction politician without convictions.


Belief in Satan and the imminent return of Christ also helps explain the prime minister’s less-than-passionate response to the most pressing environmental issue of our time. It is not surprising that Pentecostal activism about climate change is non-existent – the end of the known world is not a matter for mere mortals to decide. When Morrison proudly showed off a piece of coal in parliament, there is no reason to doubt that he believed what he held in his hand was a gift from God.


The question of salvation is the most sensitive of all these matters. In the Pentecostal world view, there is a clear delineation between those who are saved and those who are not, those who are accepted by God and those who have spurned his offer of salvation. 


This is an outlook that encourages a “them” and “us” understanding of human community. It is because this world-view is easily reconciled with that of right-wing populists that our PM’s religion is such a potentially dangerous one.


If for no other reason than this dangerous delusion, Australians deserve to know more about what the leader of our country believes. Pentecostalism might not be a cult, but in terms of what ordinary people have been told about its true teachings, it may as well be. 


Those charged with scrutinising our politicians should put aside the national discomfort about discussing religion, and do what they would if a political leader subscribed to any other little-known ideology. Morrison must be made to tell us more about the faith that has shaped his life: What does he really think of the Devil?



James Boyce is a writer and historian whose books include Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World. He is a Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.