It’s been an eventful week in Australian politics, with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull being overthrown by a fringe, extreme element of his own party.
It wasn’t surprising. He has been a target of that group since he took the leadership from his predecessor, Tony Abbott, in a similar coup.
The main difference between the two leadership changes was that the first time the nation seemed to issue a huge sigh of relief, and Turnbull started his tenure as PM with very high approval ratings – a complete turnaround from Abbott’s then rapidly reducing approval among the electorate.
This time the electorate aren’t so happy about the change, and things didn’t go the way expected by the plotters against Turnbull. Their favoured candidate (the very unpopular Peter Dutton) failed in his bid to take over the leadership, and instead Scott Morrison won through as the “accidental Prime Minister”.
The result is perhaps one that many Australian evangelicals are seeing as a miracle. Morrison is a member of a Pentecostal, evangelical church – the first Pentecostal Prime Minster in Australian history.
Watching him on TV, being sworn in last Friday night, it was easy to feel slightly optimistic…
…until, the political interviews began and his fellow Government members cut through that optimism with a slew of political obfuscation; basically regurgitating the same old rhetorical nonsense they’d been spouting for years.
Despite the alleged Pentecostal/ evangelical connections of the new Prime Minister, the message and the program of his party remains the same.
A telling part of the TV coverage on Friday night came when the studio reporters introduced a guest who had written a book about the religious beliefs of Australian Prime Minsters. Presumably they’d invited him to comment on the new PM’s religious faith, however, when the author started to address that very topic, pointing out that Morrison didn’t take a biblical direction with his social policy, he was cut off mid-sentence so they could take the audience to a reporter on location.
It seemed that something urgent needed to be reported, but that wasn’t the case. I suspect the mid-sentence switch was just an excuse to dismiss their guest when his commentary didn’t fit the kind of message they were wanting to broadcast.
There seems to be a clear reluctance to broadcast anything purporting to be a biblical point of view, even by a guest invited to present a ‘religious’ viewpoint. And to be acceptable, any expressed religious view is expected to fit the pre-determined stereotypical expectations of the barely tolerant unbeliever.
Some interesting reading related to Australia’s new “Christian” Prime Minister.