As Australia’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, perhaps could not help but notice, the events of his first years in office had biblical connotations. “Floods. Fires. Drought. Pandemic. Mouse plague,” Morrison recently quipped to his Jewish colleague, Josh Frydenberg. “I think it’s time we let your people go, Josh. Hopefully that’s not too soon.”
Morrison’s comments to Frydenberg about the biblical connotations of floods, fires, and plagues are worrying, particularly considering Morrison has not embraced a scientific response to these disasters and once skipped a UN Climate Summit to attend a rally with then U.S. President Donald Trump.
Morrison’s Prime Ministership gives an insight into how Pentecostal Christians are increasingly politically organised, beyond the United States’ borders. As of the 2016 census, just 1.1 percent of Australians identified as Pentecostal, yet Evangelical Christians are gaining increasing prominence in Morrison’s conservative Liberal Party.
A centrepiece of Morrison’s political agenda is a Religious Discrimination Bill, now shelved until after the election, which was born in the wake of Australia’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage. Human rights organisations sounded the alarm that the bill provided insufficient protection to religious minorities. Instead, in its draft format, experts say the bill could have provided protections for people and institutions to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. In a submission to the committee drafting the bill, the Human Rights Law Centre wrote that it gives “greater licence to discriminate on religious grounds than already exists in law, to the detriment of people of minority faiths, women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disability, [sic] First Nations people, people of colour and many others.”
Many of the examples of potential discrimination raised by opponents of the bill relate to Christian institutions—including schools, charities, health services and welfare services. More than one third of Australian schools are non-government schools, of which a majority are Catholic schools and other Christian denominations. In one example, Pentecostal school Citipointe Christian College reportedly issued a contract to parents at the beginning of the 2022 school year stating that a student’s enrolment could be terminated based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual activity. (The school has since recalled the contract after public backlash.)
Following a contentious debate where members of Morrison’s own party crossed the floor, the Religious Discrimination Bill has now been delayed until after the election. However, the rights of transgender and gender diverse students have been the subject of near-constant media coverage throughout the election campaign, prompting concerns from LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA). The coverage has almost exclusively focused on Katherine Deves—a long-time campaigner against transgender rights—who was preselected to run as a Liberal party candidate after Morrison reportedly personally intervened in the selection process.
Meanwhile, Morrison has also faced criticism for convening a National COVID Coordination Commission (NCCC) which called for heavy public subsidies for gas expansion in May 2020, when embers from catastrophic bushfires had barely settled—all while his government was slow to procure COVID-19 vaccinations and rapid antigen tests, leaving state governments to carry much of the burden.
During Morrison’s Prime Ministership, the Far Right has latched onto anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown movements in Australia. Far-right figures such as Blair Cottrell—who was idolised by the Christchurch attacker—have been prominent in anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown forums. Australian journalist Osman Faruqi – whose book The Racist Country will be released in August 2022—has described Australia’s response in the years since the Christchurch massacre as “a deadly silence.” In a Submission to a Senate Standing Committee inquiry into the Religious Discrimination Bill, The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (AMAN), a civil rights advocacy organisation, called for the inclusion of provisions against vilification and hate campaigns to be included in the bill. AMAN cited analysis of the Far Right in Australia by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right and the Hedayah Institute, which found that anti-Islam protest movements have been the “predominant actor on Australia’s radical right extremist scene” alongside neo-Nazi cells.
Morrison recently told journalists that if re-elected, he would pursue the Religious Discrimination Bill as a standalone piece of legislation, breaking an earlier plan to pass the bill alongside amendments to other legislation to protect students from discrimination on the basis of their sexuality. Anthony Albanese, the leader of the opposition, has said that he supports religious discrimination legislation, but specified that it should include anti-vilification protections and protections for students on the basis of their sexuality.
Morrison will face his second federal election as Prime Minister on May 21, where he will face judgement from Australians for how well he has balanced the priorities of his conservative Christian supporters with the priorities of a country where 30 percent now identify as having no religion.
 Scott Morrison, “Remarks, Sydney Institute Dinner,” Prime Minister of Australia, December 13, 2021, https://www.pm.gov.au/media/remarks-sydney-institute-dinner; Scott Morrison, “Why I love Australia,” Twitter, April 9, 2022, https://twitter.com/ScottMorrisonMP/status/1512675612796006404. Morrison again echoed the remarks about fires and floods in a video at the launch of his election campaign.
 Rachel Withers, “The Errand Boy,” Slate, October 3, 2019, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/10/scott-morrison-australia-trump-ukraine.html.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, “2016 Census data reveals “no religion” is rising fast,” Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 27, 2017, https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyReleaseDate/7E65A144540551D7CA258148000E2B85.
 Mike Seccombe, “Why Morrison refuses to drop the religious discrimination bill,” The Saturday Paper, January 29, 2022, https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/01/29/why-morrison-refuses-drop-the-religious-discrimination-bill/164337480013229.
 Jess Davis, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison says schools not expelling gay students, doubles down on religious discrimination bill,” ABC AU, May 8, 2022, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-08/scott-morrison-says-schools-not-expelling-gay-students/101047808.
 Seccombe, “Why Morrison refuses to drop.” 9
 Human Rights Law Centre, “Submission on the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021,” page 3, Human Rights Law Centre, December 2021,
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, “Schools,” February 23, 2022, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/education/schools/latest-release; Independent Schools Australia, “Independent Schools Overview,” https://isa.edu.au/about-independent-schools/about-independent-schools/independent-schools-overview.
 Caroline Riches, “Former teacher and student at Citipointe Christian College say school’s religious dogma left them scarred,” SBS, January 31, 2022, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/former-teacher-and-student-at-citipointe-ch…
 Ben Smee, “Citipointe Christian college withdrew student counselling on sexuality and gender issues,” The Guardian, March 29, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/30/citipointe-christian-college-principal-blamed-state-government-for-schools-policy-on-transgender-children.
 AAP, “Religious discrimination bill passes lower house as five Liberal MPs cross the floor,” SBS, February 10, 2022, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/religious-discrimination-bill-passes-lower-house-as-five-liberal-mps-cross-the-floor/b5zlgte9f.
 Davis, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison.”
 Nicky Bath, “LGBTIQ+ Health Australia urges care for trans and gender diverse communities,” LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA), April 27, 2022, https://www.lgbtiqhealth.org.au/lgbtiq_health_australia_urges_care_for_trans_and_gender_diverse_communities.
 Cam Walker, “The Katherine Deves saga is what happens when power speaks over truth,” Crikey, May 13, 2022, https://www.crikey.com.au/2022/05/13/katherine-deves-saga-power-over-truth/.
 Tom Stayner, “Scott Morrison’s new power plan criticised as ‘part of the problem, not the solution’ to climate crisis,” SBS, September 15, 2020, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/scott-morrisons-new-power-plan-crit…
 Stephen Long, “Government’s COVID Commission manufacturing plan calls for huge public gas subsidies” ABC AU, May 21 2020. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-21/leaked-national-covid-commission-gas-manufacturing-report/12269100.
 Katharine Murphy, “‘I’m sorry’: Scott Morrison apologises for slow pace of Australia’s vaccine rollout,” The Guardian, July 22, 2022 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jul/22/im-sorry-scott-morrison-apologises-for-slow-pace-of-australias-vaccine-rollout.
 Sydney Morning Herald Editorial, “Rapid antigen test chaos casts doubt on Morrison’s competence,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 4, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/rapid-antigen-test-chaos-casts-doubt-on-morrison-s-competence-20220104-p59lu3.html.
 Laura Tingle, “Who is responsible for quarantine in Australia,” ABC, January 19, 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-19/who-is-responsible-for-quarantine-in-australia/13070108.
 Michael McGowan, “Where ‘freedom’ meets the far right: the hate messages infiltrating Australian anti-lockdown protests,” The Guardian, March 25, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/26/where-freedom-meets-the-far-right-the-hate-messages-infiltrating-australian-anti-lockdown-protests.
 Rohan Smith, “Australia’s uncomfortable truth about home grown terror starts small,” NZ Herald, February 8, 2021, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/australias-uncomfortable-truth-about-home-grown-terror-starts-small/VXSZZG6V42WG6GGWSHZVQN2E5M/.
 Osman Faruqi, “A Deadly Silence on Christchurch,” The Saturday Paper, March 20, 2021, https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2021/03/20/deadly-silence-christchurch/161615880011296.
 AMAN, “Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (and related bills),” Parliament of Australia, January 7, 2022, https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=1bbef230-bbc6-4056-a56a-47e9f7212308&subId=719308.
 CARR-Hedayah Radical Right Counter Narratives Project, “Australian
Radical Right Narratives and Counter Narratives in an Age of Terrorism,” Page 7, Hedayah and Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, 2021,
 Scott Morrison, “Prime Minister - Transcript - Press Conference - Melbourne, VIC,” Liberal Party, May 8, 2022, https://www.liberal.org.au/latest-news/2022/05/08/prime-minister-transcript-press-conference-melbourne-vic.
 Anthony Albanese, “Sydney Press Conference,” Anthony Albanese, May 8, 2022, https://anthonyalbanese.com.au/media-centre/sydney-press-conference-bennelong-mothers-day.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, “2016 Census Data.”