As is obvious from the title, this is the fourth instalment and may be the last in this thread1-3. The previous one, briefly listed the way various religious groups had taken over some state branches of the Liberal Party3. As I have explained elsewhere, the religious hate the fact that society is becoming less religious and more progressive, and that all their legislated bigotries are being repealed, and their other bigotries outlawed3. They also hate the fact that fewer and fewer people are turning up to church and consequently there is less and less money in the collection plate. Their power and influence is fading before them, and they realise this is very much an existential threat to that power and influence. This is not only happening in Australia, but across the world. In the English-speaking world it has led to a precipitous drop in religiosity across populations, but particularly among younger demographic groups4. So, what have the religious done? In the United States, they threw their lot in with Trump, one of the most amoral, malignantly narcissistic thugs imaginable, and they railed against anyone who pointed this amorality out. It simply shows that many Christians, especially the evangelicals, will ally themselves with anyone as long as they see it as protecting their power. So much for the teachings of Jesus. In Australia, the religious have used a different strategy; they have taken over the federal Liberal Party.
It is difficult to find out what religious belief most politicians have, as they tend to keep it quiet, lest their idiotic beliefs be broadcast. These idiotic beliefs include: the earth is 6,000 years old; Noah’s Ark actually happened; evolution does not happen; the poor are simply lazy; the rapture will happen soon (again) when all good Christians will float up to heaven, and that the religious know what is best for everyone, especially when it comes to sex and human rights.
Among those whose religious beliefs can be discerned, of which there are 45 (out of 98; 43 keep their beliefs quiet), there are two atheists, one agnostic, 15 catholics, 8 pentecostals, 26 other christians, and two jews. As everyone knows, Scott Morrison is a pentecostal (he attends the Horizon church in southern Sydney), and he favours the religious over everyone else. So, of the 45, 7% (i.e. 3) have no religious affiliation. The most recent surveys indicate that, in Australia, those with no religion comprise about 40% of the population3, up from 30% in the 2016 census4.
The recent Church and State Summit 2021, held in Brisbane in late February, has clearly demonstrated that the religious want the christianisation of the government to continue and suggestions were canvassed regarding how they will go about it. This year’s speakers included George Pell, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles and Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, whilst Liberal National MP George Christensen was also in attendance. In the past, the summit has featured Murdoch hack Miranda Devine and the bizarre Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker5.
They know that coming out and spouting their ‘philosophy’ would be counter-productive, as religion rapidly declines, so George Christensen suggested they take what he called a “smarter” approach to debate by self-censoring some of their agenda until they were in power. He said: “We have got to pick the battles that we can win on in the public arena in order to get elected and be in government, and then prosecute the other battles while you’re in government,” he said5,6. This is essentially telling these prospective christian politicians to keep quiet (i.e. ‘to bear false witness’) about their religious beliefs prior to being elected. This is already what most politicians do, especially those in the Coalition parties.
The conference convener was one David Pellowe, who implored the audience to join political parties. “It’s just a numbers game,” he said. “It’s not branch stacking, it’s participation. It’s what they’ve been doing with the Frankfurt School and the infiltration of the institutions for 50 years. It’s just turning up. And it’s our turn to turn up.”6
The reference to the Frankfurt School is an allusion to what has been termed ‘cultural marxism’ by intellectual giants (sarcasm font) such as Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi, Chris Uhlmann, Mark Latham and Malcolm Roberts. This asserts that Marxists have largely taken over academia and are busy infiltrating all democratic institutions. It is almost needless to say that this is diametrically opposed to what the data tells us7. These people never let the facts get in the way of their wacky narrative.
The Church and State Summit was also attended by Martyn Iles, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby. In a panel discussion, Iles joked that his father often said “we need a good war” to sort this out and he opined that “there’s a little bit of truth in that”, because society would not be so concerned about climate change or gender identity if we were at war with China. Pellowe then interjected: “We’re not advocating violence or revolution … today.” Mr Iles added: “Not yet, that’s down the line.”6 Now, some weeks later, we have members of the government raising the prospect of war with China8, while the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Mike Burgess told a parliamentary inquiry that it is anticipating there will be a terrorist attack in Australia sometime in the next year9. Both of these instances are designed to get the government re-elected as the threat of war, or war itself, coupled with a threat of terrorism, favours incumbents as it will allow the government to be more bellicose in their ‘we will protect Australians’ rhetoric, and more likely to be re-elected.
Churches pay no tax in Australia, and if this was not enough, this government has been trying its hardest to shovel taxpayer funds to religious organisations just as enthusiastically as it shovels money to the wealthy and large corporations. This is how:
- The government has outsourced two-thirds of community services to religious organisations. These services include those dealing with youth, aged care, family support, homeless programs and mental health, and cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars per annum10, money which goes to those religious organisations.
- The School Chaplaincy Program was allocated $247 million over four years in the 2020-21 federal budget, and until 2011 chaplaincy was about spiritual and religious advice as well as support and guidance. This included teaching scripture and proselytising. However, proselytising was later outlawed. In addition, when it was started by the Howard government in 2006, there was no requirement for chaplains to hold any minimum requirements; now a Certificate IV in youth work is required. Most chaplains were and still are provided by religious organisations11,12. This is just more shovelling of taxpayer funds to religious organisations.
- Numerous government granting bodies have given grants to churches: Dutton gave Safer Communities money to the Vineyard Christian Fellowship within his electorate despite it being more lowly ranked by his department than many applications that were not funded13. The Horizon Church, to which Morrison belongs, and which has a 1,000-seat auditorium, was also given a grant of $110,000 from the Safer Communities fund. This was for “the installation of 18 fixed security cameras, 13 security lights, video intercoms to 3 designated areas, 2 security and alarm systems and the employment of a security guard”, and yet some local councils cannot get grants for the same purpose14. Hillsong church received Indigenous Development grants which went almost entirely to employing and providing offices for church staff, with only a trickle reaching Aboriginals. In one case, Hillsong spent $315,000 in federal funds employing seven of its own staff in Sydney to administer a ‘micro-credit’ project that made only six loans to Aboriginals worth an average of $2,856 each. Hillsong also failed to enable a single Aboriginal to become self-employed under a $610,968 federal grant to encourage Indigenous entrepreneurship15. The Stronger Communities program also awarded two grants of $14,300 and $11,550 to the Clovercrest Baptist Church in South Australia. Liberal senator David Fawcett is a member of the church, and was previously on its council16.
The religious know that religion is in decline all around the world, and while they fear that not only is their power and influence under threat, but also their income. Not only that, but they resent the increasingly progressive path that society has taken as it becomes less religious. That is why they will try anything; branch stacking and shovelling money to their churches is just the beginning. As Iles seemed to suggest, they will use violence if they deem it necessary. Onward Christian soldiers! David Frum had them pegged when he said: ”If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”17
The religious want dominion over everyone, not just their flock, but everyone18. Given the actions of many of them, in and out of parliament, during the various debates in recent decades, extending all the way back to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, which happened in the various states from 1975 (South Australia) to 1997 (Tasmania)19, it is a fair bet that some of these religious nutters want to recriminalise homosexuality, outlaw any abortion, abolish same-sex marriage, reinstitute gay conversion therapy, prevent voluntary assisted suicide, and will force schools to have religious instruction. They will attempt to legislate the right to discriminate against gay people, transgender people and anyone else they don’t like20. They will also defund science, especially climate science and stem-cell research, and likely demand that creationism be taught as science in schools.
Many religious people may suspect that following the teachings of Jesus may lead to a kinder, gentler Australia. This suspicion could only enter anyone’s mind if they have been on another planet for the last eight years and are unaware of Morrison’s Pentecostal prosperity theology, which is diametrically opposed to the supposed teachings of Jesus. Prosperity theology states that personal wealth is the end result of godliness. If one works hard and leads a god-fearing moral life, then prosperity will follow. The corollary of this is that wealthy people are considered the most godly, while the poor are being punished by god for their alleged indolence and immorality. As a consequence, because its adherents believe that the less well-off are only that way because they are lazy and lead immoral lives, then the provision of welfare is seen as an anathema. Why give them money if all they need do is pray and work harder? That is why Morrison is completely unconcerned that people on Newstart have to subsist below the poverty line21. It serves them right.
For the religious, democracy is an impediment to their vision. They want a theocracy, and a theocracy will brook no dissent. Theocracy always ends in murder.