Peter van Onselen Ridicules PM Scott Morrison’s Faith

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?”

Wait. What?!

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.

That’s it.

Seriously.

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.

By |2021-04-26T14:41:03+10:00April 26th, 2021|Australia, Faith|19 Comments

About the Author:

James Macpherson is a sought-after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. He is a regularly contributor to The Spectator. You can subscribe to receive all his articles on faith, culture and politics at Patreon.

19 Comments

  1. Diana April 27, 2021 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    It’s still a free country, you have no right to criticize someone because of their beliefs
    Try criticising a Muslim see the reaction you get.

  2. David Tribe May 12, 2021 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Poor PVO, I don’t think that he has read the Bible. It would be good for him to do so before matter any more ill informed comment. He will learn a lot in the Bible which truly the state of people’s lives. I pray that PVO comes to know Jesus and that Jesus has died to See PVO from his sinful state

  3. Ann Watson- Brown May 12, 2021 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Something must have happened in Peter Van Onselen’s life to make him so antagonistic towards Christians especially the Pentecostals .
    To think he is a lecturer at one of our universities is a worry !!!

  4. Moira May 12, 2021 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for cutting through PVOs leftist religion. I think most conscious people are tired of listening to his hollow preaching.

  5. John May 12, 2021 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    2 points I think:
    1. Re the Game of thrones comment. Be very careful. There is a huge difference between reading God’s account of actual human behaviour and watching fictional depiction of evil behaviour as entertainment. Tied to that, of course, is the question “Is the comment about Scott’s TV watching true anyway?”
    2. Demeaning a person as part (or even the whole) of an argument is the approach taken regularly these days when the person does not actually have any real factual argument to make. I think James needs to tread a little more warily in this area.
    Otherwise a commendable article aimed at bringing truth into the arena!

  6. Garry May 12, 2021 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Well said James. I am saddened to think that the people who need most to reflect on your comments are those least likely to bother to read them. Seems most pharisees had ta similar attitude when assessing the Author of our faith.

    • Liz Darcy May 13, 2021 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      yes, I agree too.

  7. Michael Weeks May 12, 2021 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Ad hominem attacks on steroids worked well against Donald Trump and I guess the left thinks they will work well here. That’s what you do when your own policies don’t stack up.

  8. Ian May 12, 2021 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    From the comments you have made about the critique from PVO, i can agree with you that most of it is not rationally thought out. However why does everyone assume that Scott Morrison is a Christian, just because he has been seen at Hillsong playing the part. I don’t know any genuine Christians who feel ok about watching sex and violence on TV in any form. Any person who would try and force the injection of dangerous and experimental substances into the unsuspecting public, against the Nuremberg Code and the Australian Constitution, receives my utmost doubt about a genuine faith. Look up Scotts record from 2006 when he was head of the Australian Tourism Commission. Then there is the secret handshakes with Freemason Daniel Andrews, and his support for the Victorian Governments response the the scamdemic, and his association with the Sutherland Freemasons. There are thousands of wolves in the world dressed as sheep. Words from Jesus ( Not the quantity ), and we need to be aware and careful. There are many aspects to Scott Morrisons behavior that meritt questioning his faith, and i for one am very skeptical.

    • Steven May 13, 2021 at 12:31 am - Reply

      Ian, Scott Morrison has confessed his belief and trust in Jesus before his fellow believers. Do a little investigation and you will be amazed to find he does a little more than be “seen at Hillsong”. Have a look at his opening address at the recent ACC National Conference. I wonder at your knowledge of “genuine Christians”. Opps, how do you know they are genuine? In what church or faith is watching TV not acceptable?
      Are your references to Free Masonry some form of joke or a conspiracy theory?
      I’m a Christian of some 56 years and have been a member of four different churches. I’m currently an Australian Christian Church attendee. References to Pentacostalism don’t sit well with me because it is so outdated.
      Personally, I haven’t seen the GOT TV series but loved the book series which it closely followed. Gosh, does that make me a Freemason?

  9. Maree Chapman May 12, 2021 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I was interesred to read the article. Surprised by the comment that we may not have read anything recently. I always read and pray as and when requested…anything you post. Thankyou and please continue to keep us informed as the welfare of our Government… and the people of our Nation of Australia and indeed the nations of the World are of vital interest to me.

  10. Carolyn newport May 12, 2021 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Guys scomos a Freemason
    So is his faith for real?
    What you’ll know about freemasonry?
    It’s witchcraft read up on it and search out famous people who’re involved in freemasonry.

    • isabel May 13, 2021 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      Yes
      he is a free mason

  11. Trev May 12, 2021 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    I pray continuously for good government ! TIM 2, 1-2 as we are urged. I hate to think of the state of OZ if the opposition was in charge.

  12. Liz Darcy May 13, 2021 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Well said James, thank you for writing this article

  13. Lois HOEL May 13, 2021 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this great article ….AND I love your last line … ‘…hissy fit.,,’. !..!

  14. Jennifer May 16, 2021 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Please be sure to send your article to PVO. We appreciate your wit and analysis. But HE needs to read o most of all, not just this readership.

  15. Sandra Hass May 17, 2021 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    An excellent article, James. You show great courage in taking on a leftwing commentator in such a truthful way, particularly in emphasizing the basis of Christian belief in such a clear way. We must all work hard to make sure that our freedom of religion and speech is not taken away from us – among other equally important rights.

  16. Barry Chant May 18, 2021 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Actually, compared with some of the articles I have read over the years attacking Pentecostalism, Van Onelen’s was pretty tame. Even so, it did show signs of shoddy research. Not only is his understanding of Pentecostal doctrine defective, but his knowledge of history falls similarly short — which does not speak well of his standing as an academic. I have written to him personally suggesting he might do well to look at my book The Spirit of Pentecost to gain a better understanding of the history of the movement in Australia,. For a start it is not an American import. Similarly, he relies on outdated theories about Pentecostals being ‘marginalised’–which my book clearly shows it not true in Australia. Still, Jesus warned us that we shoujd not expect everyone to speak well of us–in fact, to be careful when they do.

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