Political commentator Peter van Onselen’s soon-to-be-released book about the Prime Minister is, like eternal damnation, well worth avoiding if the chapter on Scott Morrison’s religion is any indication.
An excerpt, published in the Weekend Australian, was such a caricature of Christianity that it’s a wonder PVO bothered to use words when a garish cartoon would just as easily have sufficed.
Early in the piece — by which I mean hit job — van Onselen tells how Morrison was weary about “the cartoonish characterisation of his faith”, after which van Onselen proceeds to give a cartoonish characterisation of Morrison’s faith.
PVO begins by informing us that the PM’s instinct is to separate church and state in his life.
This would be a good thing, right? Well, not so fast.
Van Onselen next informs us that “the Morrisons also separate their faith from their television viewing habits. Diehard Game of Thrones fans Scott and Jenny didn’t miss an episode of the gruesome and sexually charged eight-season fantasy television series”.
Has PVO ever read the Bible? As a brutally accurate depiction of the human condition, it is full of gruesome and sexually charged drama.
But the real problem is that before getting past the first paragraph of van Onselen’s attempt to “understand how Pentecostalism shapes who Morrison is” the analysis – by which I mean lazy smear – has already descended into ‘Morrison’s a hypocrite because he watches TV’.
No wonder, as PVO informs us, “Scott Morrison prefers to keep matters of faith private”.
Channel 10’s political editor then tries to understand “the circumstances surrounding an adult raised in a Presbyterian family joining the Pentecostals”.
Showing why he should stick to political commentary where, apart from correctly picking election results, he at least has some expertise, van Onselen asserts that “studies show it is marginalised folk of one kind or another who make that transition. What was going on in Morrison’s life at the time and how does he perceive that transition?”
PVO seems to imagine that Presbyterians and Pentecostals are members of two entirely different religions.
You don’t “transition” from being a Presbyterian to a Pentecostal. It’s not like a sex change.
You’re simply a Christian who was going to a Presbyterian Church, but who now goes to a Pentecostal Church. And it’s not a big deal. Doctrinally they are almost identical. Typically, people move to a Pentecostal Church because they prefer the music, and the youth group is better for their kids. Later they move back to the Presbyterian Church because the Pentecostal one has grown too big and they have trouble finding a park.
Let me make this simple enough for even a professor of politics and public policy to understand …
Imagine I was a Collingwood supporter who used to watch games from level 3 at the MCG, but lately watch games from level 4. You wouldn’t pick through the entrails trying to ascertain what was going on in my life to precipitate that ‘transition’. I haven’t changed teams. I just prefer the view from level 4.
As for studies that show it is “marginalised folk” who go to Pentecostal churches, PVO can only be referring to a study of his own article, since he next informs us that Pentecostals enjoy “the smugness of knowing that you will be saved while others burn in hell”.
If a charge like that is not meant to marginalise Pentecostals, I don’t know what is.
Christians of all shapes and sizes, even super helpful completely inoffensive Salvation Army types, believe that everyone is destined for hell except that they are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. And no Christians, not even Pentecostals, are smug about that because there’s nothing in that to be smug about.
Where’s the boast in admitting that the only way I qualify for Heaven is admitting that I don’t qualify for Heaven, and asking Jesus for help?
Van Onselen’s article does reveal a large dose of “smug”, but it’s not coming from the Christian couple in the lodge.
He goes on to assert that Pentecostals promote “the idea your wealth is deserved and blessed by God”.
Isn’t it funny how the Left believe that feeling entitled to your own wealth is a sin, but feeling entitled to the wealth of others is okay? But I digress.
If PVO had spoken to an actual Christian rather than simply surveying the cartoon one that lives in his imagination, he would know that Christians, including Pentecostals, do not believe they “deserve” anything.
They do believe that every good thing they have — whether much or little — is a gift from God. They also believe that if you follow Biblical wisdom you will do better in every area, including financially, than you would otherwise have done. They believe this as a principle, not as a formula.
And of course! Who would embrace a worldview that made life worse? Apart from Leftists, I mean.
PVO goes on to call Pentecostalism “a new religion” — except that the day of Pentecost, which the term refers to, happened 2000 years ago, so it’s hardly new. Moreover, Pentecostalism is Christianity, not a new religion.
He says that Pentecostal churches find fertile ground among “reactionary, insular, middle-aged men” which, if true, can only mean that Hillsong should expect a visit from Peter van Onselen next Sunday and every Sunday after that.
Finally he says that Pentecostals are the “least likely to accept the science of climate change” because essentially they see the earth as something to exploit for personal gain rather than to steward for future generations.
It never occurs to the co-host of Channel 10’s The Project that perhaps many Australians are climate sceptics, not because they go to church, but because they have studied the subject and dispute the exaggerated global warming projections of most computer models.
Then again, why would that ever occur to someone who seems to have already made up his mind that Christians are smug, self-absorbed and stupid?
Van Onselen’s exposé of Scott Morrison’s faith raises more questions than it answers. Questions such as, when did it become acceptable for the media to deride a person for being a Christian in this country? And where was the equivalent dissection of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s faith, when he held press conferences outside church most Sundays?
In short, PVO’s book adds zero to our understanding of Christianity, but it certainly helps us to understand the soulless Left.
Back in 2019, Scott Morrison (who happens to be a Christian) won an unlikely election victory. A victory that none other than Peter van Onselen predicted there was “no way that Scott Morrison can win”.
The Left have been having a hissy fit ever since.