The ‘prosperity doctrine’ of Scott Morrison

Morrison is a proud and public worshipper at the Horizon Church, which, like Hillsong, is Pentecostal. He is a neoliberal and as treasurer he has governed neoliberally. Wage growth in Australia is stagnant, underemployment is rife. One of his earliest speeches was to condemn welfare recipients as the “taxed nots”, yet the policy he was most committed to pursue was the $65bn tax cuts for corporate Australia, including $17bn for the banks – the banks that are now recommended for criminal charges, from a banking royal commission Morrison described as a “populist whinge”.

Who is such a person to lead this country? Well, if his own propaganda’s to be believed, a very holy man. Morrison spoke of his “personal faith in Jesus Christ” in his 2008 maiden speech, in which he also thanked pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Cameron of what has been described as a “money machine”, the Hillsong Church, for their “great assistance” to him. Citing Houston as “a mentor”, Morrison is a proud and public worshipper at the Horizon Church, which, like Hillsong, is Pentecostal, and similarly an “American-style mega-church … where the gospel of prosperity is preached in an auditorium that can accommodate over 1,000 evangelicals” as described in a 2012 profile of Morrison in the Monthly.

Drilling down into what constitutes the “prosperity doctrine” of these Protestant sects provides some context for neoliberal Jesusing, Scott Morrison-style. Walking away from materialism is something we humble Catholics understand as a “counsel of perfection” – Christ’s instruction in Matthew 19:21 is literally “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But the theology of megachurches like Morrison’s inverts these values. Here, the message is that earthly riches result as a recognition of God’s favour. It’s an apologia for wealth and privilege and delivered with some pomp – as I learned when I spent a year hidden in his mentor Houston’s Hillsong congregation.

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