In largely secular societies such as Australia, religion and politics have been long uneasy partners. It has become a much more prominent player since the September 11 attacks and the sudden emphasis on Islam in Western politics. We have witness how the Republican Party was taken over by conservative evangelicals in America over the past decade. This led to Donald Trump’s election.
We have seen a growing concern in Australia about the intrusion of religion into politics. There was a resounding protest when Sydney Anglicans gave A$1,000,000 to a campaign against the marriage equality referendum. Unease has also resulted from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s open devotion to Pentecostalism. Numerous media interviews and articles have been conduct with experts to find out if his religious affiliation was a factor in his decision-making.
His latest claim that he was call to God’s work, only add to the unease. Australia is a secular liberal democracy that allows many people to be religious. Many other religions also coexist in Australia. He is suppose be the one who governs for us all.
Anti Religion Mean A Rejection Of Religion
Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) was concerned with the elective similarities between Protestantism and capitalism. Max Weber argued that Protestant traits like puritanism and this-worldly asceticism were essential to the expansion of capitalism. Social scientists believed that as societies become more industrialize and modern, religion would be replace by science in the 1960s.
Research does not support the notion that Australians are less religious. Many social scientists have discredited secularization theory since the 1990s by arguing it was a myth or wishful thinking that is not consistent with reality. Although the Western world’s population is growing in people who have ticked no religion on censuses, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people are atheists. It just means that institutionalised religion has declined.
Research has shown that these nones, more often than they think, claim to be spiritual. They believe in God, spirits, and angels, but don’t belong to any organized religion. Australia’s last census showed that 30% of respondents had not voted for any religion. Research with young people revealed that 18% of them were spiritual, but not religious, 8% were seekers and 17% were religiously devote. 20% were nominally religious, 15% was indifferent, 23% were this-worldly, and 20% were religiously commit. These were the conclusions of the authors:
Religiously Fervent Generally Not Anti-Religious
A growing number of spiritual communities are challenging the modern project, with its secular institutions as well as secular forms of authority. They believe that God and spiritual forces should be final authorities in how governments design laws and policies, and how they should live their lives. Pentecostals believe that God acts in the world because God is present and intercedes in every day events.
It is easy to see how conspiracy theories have grown, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the way in which the wellness movement was merge with conspiracy theories to create a phenomenon called conspirituality, to see that science has been challenge by spiritual, religious, and magical beliefs.
Religion and spirituality have flourished under neoliberalism, consumer capitalism. This is evident in the success of Jesus shoes or Satan shoes, Kanye West’s Sunday services, and the skyrocketing sales of his church clothes. label.
Pentecostalism Is On The Rise
Particularly, the boundaries between public and private spheres are blur by the Pentecostal churches. Hillsong, the megachurch that I’ve been studying for the better part of a decade is at the forefront. This is due to its extensive use of social media and digital (where it has millions), its engagement in contemporary pop culture and youth cultures in fashion and music, as well as its interaction with all spheres of life through its church programs.
Jean Comar off, an anthropologist and social scientist, has argued that while faith is not completely absent from politics anywhere on the planet, we have entered into a post secular time. She meant that religion can play a part in areas previously considered completely secular like economic development and welfare services.
The majority of welfare services in Australia have been delegated to Christian faith-based organizations by the government. This has been happening more frequently since 2010.
These are mostly from the mainstream Christian churches (Uniting of Anglican, Baptist and Catholic). When refugees are released from detention, they are taken care of by faith-based organizations. They offer housing, employment, English classes, and many other services.
Pentecostal churches are also starting to work with the government in order to provide services. Hillsong, for example, has established “homes of Peace” and other programs for women, children, and families after the Australian government cut funding for refuges for women fleeing domestic abuse.
It is not a good idea for governments to delegate their welfare programs and other government functions to faith-based organizations. Brian Henigan and Gretchen Purser, anthropologists, researched the US’ faith-based job readiness program. The project was not consistent in their findings, which they called evangelizing employ mentalbility. It was necessary to reconcile the two ideologies of the program: entrepreneurial independence and righteous dependence on God.
Religion Has Not Disappear
What does this all mean? The idea of the secular is more a historical ideal than a real reality. Religion never went away. Different nations may have different arrangements regarding the influence and place of religion. We must acknowledge the fact that people have different religious, spiritual, and non-religious orientations.
William Connolly, a political scientist, argued that secularists must acknowledge the universality of faith in order to negotiate with different orientations and not claim they are neutral. Politics isn’t an isolated sphere of life, and that includes religion.