“There’s a lot of talk about our freedoms as Christians in this country and they should be protected.”
“I speak about my faith … because I want everyone in this place to feel comfortable talking about their faith, in this country.”
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, made a surprise appearance at a Christian conference yesterday, declaring that the country needs more of “the love of God.”
Speaking at the annual Hillsong Conference in Sydney, the PM who is believed to be a devout Christian, also openly prayed for the Lord to intervene and bring an end to a widespread drought that continues to cripple his nation.
“Lord, we just pray for rain: That your rain will fall on this nation,” Morrison declared in front of thousands of believers, according to Reuters. “Lord, that you will restore those communities, and that you will see a prosperity in this nation from the rain.”
He added: “What this country needs more than anything is the love of God.”
In light of the religious freedom case currently engulfing former Australian National Rugby player, Israel Folau, Morrison who described his recent election victory a “miracle,” sought to assure believers of his intentions to usher forward legislation that would further protect the free speech of Christians.
Praying for Australia at the evangelical Christian event with his wife, Jenny, Morrison addressed the government’s growing internal debate about religious freedom by arguing that culture was more important than laws.
Australia has no bill of rights or explicit protections for religious freedoms, but Morrison’s conservative government is considering such measures in the wake of a high-profile rugby player’s sacking over religious posts on social media.
“We’ll do what we must do from a legislative point of view and the law,” Morrison told the 21,000-strong crowd on Tuesday night. “There’s a lot of talk about our freedoms as Christians in this country and they should be protected.”
He added that there was “nothing more fundamental than the freedom of belief, whatever that belief might be,” and that values of religious freedom should be “nourished and protected.”
“But what all that boils down to is the culture in this country,” Morrison said. “It’s not the laws that make freedom of religion work, it’s the culture that accepts it.
“So I speak about my faith … because I want everyone in this place to feel comfortable talking about faith in this country,” he declared, to rapturous applause. It’s not a political agenda, it’s who we are.”
Morrison said while freedom of belief in Australia was fundamental, Christians needed to prioritise love over judgments and lectures. “That’s what we all need. That’s what our country needs. That’s what our nation needs. That’s what we’re here to do as Christians. Not here to judge. Not here to lecture. Just here to show the amazing love of God.
“My job is the same as yours: love God, love people. We’ve all got the same job.”
He suggested the religious freedom debate was too rights-orientated. According to the report in Eternity, Morrison referenced the conditions faced by missionaries in Soviet Russia. “You didn’t hear stories about them complaining about their rights … They were just loving in that situation and they were out there for God. That was their response and this country needs more love and less judgment.”
During his election campaign, Morrison invited the press to watch him pray in his local church in a bid to normalize the practice among Australian civil society. His surprise appearance at Hillsong Conference, however, was kept very much under wraps.