RELIGION AND POLITICS IN AUSTRALIA
Lecture 6 (2 August 2007)
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS AND POLITICS
1. Evangelical Christians
• Found in all mainstream Christian churches, but fewest in Catholic
Church, and also in own separate churches. Smaller mainstream churches,
such as Baptists, are evangelical. The term refers to a distinctive style of
Christianity and to particular churches. Emphasis on preaching, biblical
teaching and conversion of ‘unchurched’ people.
• Evangelicalism: began as a mid-18th century religious movement.
Components include Puritan morality, religious singing, Bible reading and
justification by faith alone (not ‘good works’). Influenced most Protestant
Christians in early European Australia and inspired movements such as the
British and Foreign Bible Society and the Sunday school movement.
Lobbied to protect Aborigines in colonial times. Gradually lost influence
and became minority, conservative/fundamentalist Evangelicalism
dominant only in Sydney (OCAH).
• Pentecostalism: style of Christianity that can be found both in mainstream
churches and own churches. It “emphasises the ‘baptism of the Holy
Spirit’ and its demonstration in charismatic gifts of inspired utterance,
physical healing and the speaking of tongues” (OCAH). 28 Pentecostal
denominations; American influence, including visiting pastors, is
important. Pentecostal Church (Melbourne) founded 1922. The term
‘born-again Christians’ is often applied.
• Assemblies of God: the oldest/largest grouping of Pentecostal churches
(50% of these churches). Each assembly is autonomous. National
President is Brian Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong Church, Sydney
(see T. Levin, People in Glass Houses, and ALR, August 2007). The
network began 1937. Individual leaders very important. Many churches
(50%) are small; some large, especially Hillsong (ABC Australian Story,
1 August 2005), but also Paradise, Adelaide. Emphasis is evangelical,
fundamentalist and biblical rather than liturgical (churchly functions and