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Australia has its first Pentecostal Prime Minister


Red Kangaroos Credit: David Cook/Flickr/Creative Commons

Red Kangaroos Credit: David Cook/Flickr/Creative Commons

Over the weekend, the Australian Liberal party elected Scott Morrison. 50, as Prime Minister of Australia after the party’s leader Malcolm Turnbull resigned on Friday after realizing he no longer had the majority support of his party.

Morrison won the nomination in an election run off with two other contenders. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Morrison served as the country’s treasurer, social services minister and minister in charge of immigration and border protection.

In Australia, the Liberal party is considered a center-right party with its main opposition the Labour party considered center left.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Credit: clrdms/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Credit: clrdms/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

There has been a lot of political upheaval in Australia recently as Morrison will be Australia’s sixth Prime Minister in the past 10 years.

What makes Morrison’s nomination interesting is that he is Australia’s first openly Pentecostal Prime Minister. He and his family regularly attend Horizon Church, a 2,200 member Assemblies of God church in Sydney, Australia.

He grew up in a Christian family and according to Reverend Ray Green, the pastor of the church his family attended, as a teenager, Morrison had a leadership role among his peers. At one point he contemplated attending Regency College, a theological college in Canada.

Morrison is considered a social conservative and publicly opposed same-sex marriage. However, according to many pundits he has not shoved his beliefs down people’s throats. When the party agreed to abide by a nationwide survey on the issue, Morrison chose to abstain when the party passed legislation supporting same-sex marriage after 61.6% of Australians (12.7 million people) said they supported it.

Commenting on his faith when he was first elected to Australia’s House of Representatives in 2008, Morrison said:

“My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda. As Lincoln said, our task is not to claim whether God is on our side, but to pray earnestly that we are on His.”

Morrison says he will be pushing for religious freedom in Australia and is concerned that those particularly on the left have been trying to demonize Christians stating:

“In recent times, it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their faith in public life as ‘extreme.'”

He describes Australia as a “free” country versus a “secular” one. The difference being a secular nation has one rigid form of belief, while a free nation allows for multiple views.

Morrison came under criticism from journalists and Labour Party politicians when he served as immigration minister. Morrison took a tough stand against refugees and reduced the number of illegal asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat from 21,000 in 2013 to just 157 in 2014.

Many refugees die making the dangerous trip across open seas from Asia to Australia. Morrison believed that the only way to discourage them from taking the journey was “tough love” that included returning these type of asylum seekers to their originating country.

Sources:

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