Faith, money and power: what the religious revival means for politics
Contributor(s)Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences. Institute for Social Research
KeywordsEvans, Andrew (1935-)
Assemblies of God
Costello, Peter (1957-)
Family First Party
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AbstractPentecostal religion is the fastest-growing religion in Australia---recording a huge growth at a time when more traditional Christian congregations are shrinking. Award-winning author and journalist Margaret Simons explores the rise of the religious right in Australia, and in particular the influence of the Assemblies of God - the coalition of churches of which Sydney's Hillsong and Adelaide's Paradise Church are prominent members. The Paradise Church spawned the political party Family First. The party's first political candidate, Andrew Evans, was formerly the pastor at Paradise - a position now held by his son Ashley. The Paradise Church is also the home congregation of Guy Sebastian, the first winner of Australian Idol. The Paradise Church has claimed that God has used Sebastian to carry the Assemblies of God message into the entertainment world. Federal politicians, particularly Peter Costello, have gone out of their way to address and appeal to Assemblies of God audiences. Margaret Simons investigates the church's vast financial interests which include a financial services organization offering insurance, investment opportunities and superannuation. Because it is a non-profit organization, it escapes regulation by ASIC. She also explores a number of interesting property transactions, with real estate passing between church organizations and the private interests of pastors attached to the churches. What is the appeal of this brand of Christianity and how is it that individuals and families are drawn to Hillsong and the Paradise Church, and have made their message part of their lives?