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Will ScoMo ever cut through in irreligious Australia?

Well, the serial unveiling of Scott Morrison continues apace and is about the most interesting thing happening in Australian politics at the moment. The Liberal happy warrior is like a Roman soldier-Christian at the moment, his armour stripped away, piece by piece, to reveal a naked torso for the arrows of martyrdom. They thud into him at every press conference. Ever since he revealed that he had prayed for an end to the drought, the game has been on.

ScoMo and his handlers had hoped they could turn him into Howard II, the suburban dag, after five years of the Mad Monk and Flash Daddy Warbucks Turnbull.

Alas, he’s now like the chaplain brought in for compulsory RE who must endure 2000 years of theological questioning from teenage smart arses: “if God can do anything why the Holocaust/cancer/can’t I get with Stacey?” etc etc. Morrison could be opening the new Bruce J Tingwell Drainage Hub in Dubbo and someone is still going to ask him if he prayed for better municipal waste management.

Were he your standard cultural Christian atheist — i.e. an Anglican — Morrison could just brush it off. He could say, well, that’s below God’s pay grade, etc, and it would end. But ScoMo is the real deal: a genuine evangelical Christian who, it seems, will not prevaricate on his faith. So he tells us of the children he has imprisoned yet prays for, the rains he prays for, he claims his Pastor would know if there were terrorists in the midst of his flock.

This can’t be a deliberate strategy, can it? Australian suburban dagginess and religion don’t mix. Howard never mentioned God that I can recall, and even when he talked about Western civilisation, etc, it was usually in British terms, not on the Judeo-Christian thing. The school chaplains program was as cultural as it was religious. The Liberal claque that shoved ScoMo into the job must be tearing their hair out at how this is going. Trying to sound like one of us, Morrison has the air of some hip priest in a blue skivvy, about to get out the guitar for “Morning Has Broken”.

This is a source of buttock-clenching embarrassment for most Australians, just about the most functionally irreligious people on Earth. Sure, quite a lot of people are walking around with a theology of sorts in their head — some mix of Deism, poster prints of “Desiderata”, some borrowed Aboriginal animism, and the residual narcissism that seeks a universal force that won’t stop the Holocaust, but will wipe that angry voicemail you left for Troy — but that’s not religion, with its commitment, its boundedness, its specificity.

ScoMo’s got that capacity, what is called in Arabic, islam, submission. The inconvenience of having to bear witness to it at a newly opened jam factory staffed by rehabilitated ice addicts (“prime minister, did God create jam?”) worries him not at all. He is a servant of a higher power. I actually admire him for that. He’s got fidelity to something at least.

Furthermore, he is a servant of a higher power who has very specific character. The Christianity of the Gospels, the testing challenge to absolute struggle of Matthew 25:35-40 is absent here. No one who followed that could be the minister Morrison has been. That Christianity is represented in our country by people like Rod Bower. Its political expression is anarchism.

But Christianity has a dual character. Its other side is not the movement of love against death, but a conformism to power represented by a known god. This is a product of Christianity’s fusion with the official Roman religion of Mithraism in the fourth century CE, and its adoption as the compulsory imperial faith by Theodosius. In that move, the “this-sidedness” of Christianity became uppermost.

The following of an Essenic communist barefoot rabbi, who set faith as an unending challenge, and God as unknowable in this world, became a religion that gave transcendental meaning to imperial purpose, and absolution for its sins. Throughout the religion’s history, this cycle has been repeated. The evangelical Christianity Morrison follows began as fire-breathing dissent in the 19th century, co-parented socialism and American progressivism. When the culture wars began in the 1960s, it crossed to the other side. In the process its loving, fighting God became a new Jahweh, absolving of state violence, whose ethical prescriptions could be read off like a manifesto.

Therein lies the contradiction that has turned Morrison’s faith into a problem for those trying to sell him. Because now, post Godspell (have you listened to this recently? The songs are great!), post Da Vinci Code, post Gosford Anglican church, most of us identify Christianity with its radical gospel version. Imperial Christianity, the mainstay of our religious culture from 1788 to Menzies is now the alien, hypocritical belief system we turn away from.

Morrison sees no contradiction in having a silver boat-idol on his desk saying “I stopped these” and worshipping a man who walked on water to save people in boats — no contradiction in praying for the children whose souls he is helping destroy.

We see it plainly, and it turns our stomachs. We see it across all classes and social groups. The only people who can’t see it is the rightariat: the Dan Brown theme park that is The Australian, the blinkered Americophiles at the Tele, Alex Hawke’s Seven Hills happy clappies, Eric Abetz’s Tasmanian Salivating Army, the Spring Street Liberal Tabernacle of Utah Saints, and the chino ‘n’ pearls think tank Sunday schools, who delude themselves into thinking they represent a God-fearing low taxing silent majority out there somewhere.

God knows, maybe the whole ScoMo #prayernation thing is deliberate. Maybe it’s that delusional. But I suspect not. I reckon for every point Morrison gets from a sculled beer, he loses two for praying for better cattle tick control in northern New South Wales.* I reckon it’s driving his Newspoll further south.

Keep praying, St Sebastian ScoMo! All the way to 58-42! Post-election, you can gather your dozen followers ’round you once more.

*rural tick control was the subject of Henry Bolte’s maiden speech.

Guy Rundle is Correspondent at Large for Crikey

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Peter Black

    November 19, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Morrison a Christian? No. Would a true Christian, a follower of the Christian Prophet, Christ, use these words in an aired national interview ?

    ” Mr Morrison said: “Well no, first of all, but next, I’ve had plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson.”

    These are not the words, or the thinking, of a true Christian, and proclaiming himself a Christian whilst using these demeaning words to dismiss a women’s raised issue makes Morrison a nastie, blokey, smutty, bozo, creep.

    Definitely not a follower of Christ.

    • Russell.

      November 20, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Actually Peter, writing and persecuting women out of existence in every way possible embodies everything about being a Christian. Christianity and its patriarchal whole has from day one sought to exclude, demonise, punish and murder women and men across the world who were largely and formerly matriarchal societies, and described as heretics or pagans.

      History since the invention of the New Testament by Saul/Paul & Co is riddled with it. Hence the rabid Christian patriarchal western societies we have/had today with climate denialists like Trump, mad monk Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison, etc at the helm. I doubt if any of them are “Christians” really, but it suits their purpose to appear so as Christianity is all about power and wealth accumulation.

      You don’t have to go any further than read up on the views and edicts of the Popes throughout history. Pope Innocent III is a good one to start with.

      • Peter Black

        November 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm

        I was raised in a Catholic environment, and my first birthday was in a Convent, in NZ. The nuns were the closest to a Mother that I knew. The “Sisters of Mercy” is still one of my favorite Goth rock bands.

        So it really hurt to hear of the accusations made against them in Queensland, and they left me wondering about all I knew and understood.

        As one might imagine, I have a good understanding of the Bible, but over the years I have viewed it from a different perspective.

        So, yes, I do agree with you that Saul/Paul was completely and totally repressive towards women, and humanity in general.

        Agreed.

        • Russell

          November 22, 2018 at 8:17 am

          Lol, “Sisters of Mercy” Goth rock band! I never would have guessed. Personally I’ve never heard of them. Will have a little squiz.

          Yes, the New Testament is all in the interpretation .. or so its interpreters believe. It’s all about how to use it to control people. Most abuse in the world is excused by it, or used as the catalyst for war.

          The Old Testament on the other hand is just a historical record with a few sets of rules of decency and common sense set out so that no-one and no land could be abused, or others benefit from unjust practices. For example: all lands were to be left fallow for one year in every seven and every 50th. In that year if anything came up by itself, only the poor could harvest it. If you didn’t “your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield her increase neither shall the trees yield their fruits .. I will send a pestilence amongst you.” Leviticus 26. This was to make sure the land stayed fertile, healthy and productive. Just common sense. Look at farming today. The land is now very sick and overrun with pestilence. Very much against the Bible, and just the Laws of Nature.

          And Deuteronomy 15 … “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of release; Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s Release .. To the end that there be no poor among you.” This was to make sure no-one was forever destitute or bound into slavery.

          And, very apt with the current Financial Royal Commission, Leviticus 25 reads “And if thy brother be waxen poor and fallen in decay with thee then thou shall relieve him .. take thou no usury of him, or increase .. thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury nor lend him thy victuals for increase.” In other words, don’t charge interest for helping him onto his feet, NOR expect anything back if you know he can’t afford to repay it. You will be repaid with kindness. Deuteronomy 15:7-10

  2. Russell

    November 19, 2018 at 7:19 am

    SloganMo on his pub 2018 crawl.

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