Greg Sheridan, one of the religious nutters at Murdoch’s The Australian ‘newspaper’, has written an opinion piece entitled ‘Hands up for your faith’ with the subtitle ‘With Christianity under siege, it’s uplifting to see Scott Morrison comfortable and open in his belief’1. It was of course a defence of Scott Morrison, who invited media cameras into the Horizon Pentecostal church which he attends2, seemingly as a public relations stunt.
Sheridan seemed disappointed that the image of Morrison bothering his god with his arm in the air as if hailing a taxi, was pushed off the front page by the disgusting atrocity in Columbo. Furthermore, as if relating the situation on a different planet he stated “that Christianity is the most heavily persecuted religion in the world”. I suspect that the close to a million dead Hazara, Yazidis, Shia and even Sunni of the middle east and central Asia would disagree with Sheridan’s assessment.
Sheridan does admit that Christianity is in decline in the West, but “is on fire with new growth and conversions in Africa, Asia and Latin America”. Given that Latin America was colonised by the Catholic Portuguese and Spanish, I’d be surprised if the growth in Christianity was anything other than population growth aided and abetted by the Catholic church’s antipathy to contraception. He also admits that “it would be absurd to suggest Christians in Australia face active persecution”, but he opines that there is an increasing atmosphere of hostility and contempt for Christianity. This is not quite true. There is an atmosphere of hostility and contempt not for Christianity per se, but for what Christianity has become. It has become a nasty, bigoted, resentful, power-hungry, right-wing claque who, like Tony Abbott, will do anything and support anyone if they perceive it to be in the interests of increasing their own access to power. This is exemplified by evangelical support for the appalling Donald Trump. It is even manifest in Australia. Pastors from Morrison’s Pentecostal church have warned their congregations that “darkness” will descend on Australia and Christians will be persecuted in Morrison is not re-elected3. The darkness they fear is not plague an pestilence, it is the coming financial apocalypse, where the churches, particularly those addicted to prosperity theology, will have to pay tax like the rest of us. While Morrison makes a show of his religion, he too seems to mostly believe in prosperity theology, which is all about financial well-being4. His adherence to what used to be called the ten commandments is limited at best: he lies constantly; he is complicit in the deaths of asylum seekers; and he is complicit in stealing money from the taxpayers and laundering it through his party’s donors.
Sheridan began his sermon with a passage from 1 Timothy 2:8: ‘In every place of worship I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to god free from anger and controversy.’1 Perhaps he should pay more attention not to such religious ostentation, but to the more important items in the bible; for instance: 1 Timothy 6:10: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’5. Have you ever seen a self-appointed pastor from a Pentecostal church who is poor? I haven’t. There are a few Christians who have avoided this debasement, but they seem to be few and far between, unfortunately6.
Why is Christianity in decline in the west? Because it has been revealed to be led by a bigoted, power hungry, money grubbing, often depraved bunch who will do anything to cover up their sometimes monstrous misdeeds. Why do they believe that Christianity is under siege? Because they have been so privileged for so long, that for them, equality seems like persecution.