The Project’s Waleed Aly defends Scott Morrison over sermon after ex-PM slammed by Anthony Albanese


 Scott Morrison (pictured speaking to churchgoers on Sunday) said people should put their trust in God and Christ, not governments

Waleed Aly has defended Scott Morrison over a controversial church sermon he believes has been taken out of context by the media.

The former prime minister has faced massive backlash since delivering a church sermon at a Perth church on Sunday, where he called into question ‘fallible’ governments and the United Nations. 

The Project weighed into the ongoing controversy on Thursday night after Mr Morrison’s sermon was branded by his successor Anthony Albanese as nonsense.

Not everyone on the panel agreed with co-host Aly, who believes the backlash was caused by media coverage taking the sermon out of context.

‘I reckon that’s on the media. I think that’s our fault. I don’t think it’s his fault,’ the former Gold Logie winner told the stunned panel.

‘He was giving a sermon in a church.’

Co-host Sarah Harris interjected: ‘But Anthony Albanese’s responded to it.’

Aly argued that like so much of the media, the prime minister’s response to the sermon was misconceived.

‘What’s he saying? He’s saying institutions like government and the UN, he says they’re fine, but they’re imperfect,’ he said.

‘And he’s giving a sermon at a church and saying we as Christians, we place our trust in that which is divine and perfect, which is not earthly. He used the word earthly to describe it. That’s just a standard religious mode of talking.

Panellist Jessie Stephens disagreed and described as Mr Morrison’s comments as unhelpful when he’s still an elected member of parliament.

‘I understand that, but when it’s underpinning climate policy, or he’s talking about bills,’ she said.

‘He’s saying if you’re anxious about climate change or bills, then have faith in God which is fine for him, but in a country where we know from the recent census that a lot of Australians aren’t religious, I think that’s misreading.’

Waleed Aly (left) weighed into the ongoing controversy by jumping to Mr Morrison's defence

Waleed Aly (left) weighed into the ongoing controversy by jumping to Mr Morrison’s defence

Aly doubled down on his defence of Mr Morrison. 

‘The criticism here is that he’s saying ‘don’t trust the government’. I think that’s a bad faith reading of what he’s saying. That’s a misinterpretation,’ he told panellists.

‘All he’s saying is ‘we don’t trust earthly institutions the way that we trust God’.

‘If you’re a Christian, and not just a Christian by the way, I reckon just about any mainstream perspective from any mainstream faith would say the same thing.

Aly’s defence of Mr Morrison sparked a divisive reaction from viewers.

‘JUST NO, Waleed Aly. Stop making excuses for Morrison saying ‘don’t trust the govt/UN’, & his invisible friends are the only entities you can trust. You’re also leaving out the Satan causes anxiety lunacy,’ one viewer tweeted.

Another added:  If you do not see anything wrong with an ex-PM denigrating Govt and the UN then perhaps you should spend more time watching what Donald Trump did in the USofA and is now claiming as innocent remarks.

Others agreed with The Project host.

‘Thank you Waleed. For a Christian God is holy, perfect, incorruptible and earthly institutions exist by his divine grace. We are thankful for Government and the UN but they are not without corruption when you look at history and current events,’ they wrote.

Panellist Jessie Stephens (far right) disagreed with the host's view and described Mr Morrison's sermon as unhelpful

Panellist Jessie Stephens (far right) disagreed with the host’s view and described Mr Morrison’s sermon as unhelpful

Mr Morrison, 54, was given a rockstar reception when he visited the Victory Life Centre founded by controversial tennis great Margaret Court.

The ex-PM was a guest speaker at the event, celebrating the 27th birthday of the church and the installation of its new Perth Prayer tower.

He told churchgoers should put their faith in Christ over ‘fallible governments,’ despite him being Australia’s leader for almost four years until his government was ousted in May.

‘God’s kingdom will come. It’s in his hands. We trust in him. We don’t trust in governments. We don’t trust in the United Nations, thank goodness,’ Mr Morrison said. 

‘We don’t trust in all these things, fine as they may be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it and they are important.’

Four days later, Mr Albanese weighed into the controversy by labelling the  comments were appalling from a former national leader. 

Labor PM Anthony Albanese says Scott Morrison's comments about not trusting comments 'astonishing'

Labor PM Anthony Albanese says Scott Morrison’s comments about not trusting comments ‘astonishing’

Speaking on ABC Melbourne radio, Albanese said: ‘I just thought, ‘wow’. 

‘This guy was the prime minister of Australia and had that great honour of leading the government. I found it quite astonishing.

‘It provides some explanation perhaps of why – in my view – he clearly didn’t lead a government that was worthy of the Australian people. 

‘I find it astonishing that in what must have been, I guess a moment of frankness, he has said he doesn’t believe in government. I believe that the government does play a role in people’s lives and our living standards,’ he added. 

He said Mr Morrison’s comments about the United Nations were ‘nonsense’ and he took offence.

‘And the idea that he’s out there and pressing the United Nations button,’ he said.

‘Again, I mean I have spent the first two months trying to repair our international relations.

‘That sort of nonsense, throwaway conspiracy line about the United Nations, I think isn’t worthy of someone who led Australia.’

Shortly after his election defeat, Mr Morrison was dubbed 'Squat Morrison' due to how long it took the former prime minister to move out of his official residence

Mr Morrison's wife, Jenny, is seen in the wake of the ex-PM's election loss on May 21

Shortly after his election defeat, Mr Morrison (left) was dubbed ‘Squat Morrison’ due to how long it took the former prime minister to move out of his official residence. Mr Morrison’s wife, Jenny, is seen in the wake of the ex-PM’s election loss on May 21

Mr Morrison, 54, was given a rockstar welcome at Ms Court’s church after he jetted into Perth on Sunday for the first time since his election loss on May 21.

He dismissed his election defeat from the pulpit lectern and said it had not dented his faith.

‘Do you believe if you lose an election that God still loves you and has a plan for you? I do – because I still believe in miracles,’ he told the congregation.

It echoed the speech he gave after his 2019 election win over Labor’s Bill Shorten when he said: ‘I have always believed in miracles’.

The ex-PM focused on mental health for much of his sermon and discussed his struggles to conceive with wife, Jenny.

‘The mental health strains and stresses and the anxieties that are driven in our society is having a real toll on people. It’s really serious,’ he said.

‘I’m not talking about fear. I’m talking about anxiety. Anxiety is longer lasting. Anxiety can be overwhelming. It can be debilitating, it can be agony.

‘God understands anxiety. God knows that anxiety is part of the human condition.’

But he said religious belief was the solution.

‘There’s one answer,’ he said. ‘God loves you…We cannot allow these anxieties to deny us – that that’s not His plan.

‘That’s Satan’s plan. That’s not His plan – and He has victory over all these things.’

The former prime minister also said people should put their trust in Christ, not governments.

‘We trust in Him,’ he said.

‘We don’t trust in governments. We don’t trust in the United Nations, thank goodness. We don’t trust in all of these things, fine as they might be.

‘Believe me, I’ve worked in it and they are important.

‘But as someone has been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake.

‘They’re earthly, they are fallible.’

Mr Morrison also revealed how he had shouted at the heavens in New Zealand after 10 courses of IVF had failed him and his wife Jenny as they tried to start a family.

‘It was heartbreaking,’ he said in the sermon.

‘It was awful, so I let God have it.

‘I’m walking through this forest on my own, shouting about how unhappy I was with Him. If people had heard this then they would have locked me up.

‘I poured my heart out to God about how it was impacting Jenny and how we had hoped for this and we were being denied. We felt He had a bigger plan.’

His first daughter Jenny was born some months later on July 2, 2007, he said, adding: ‘God’s got a sense of humour.’

Mr Morrison spoke about his wife Jenny's struggle to conceive, during one part of his controversial sermon

Mr Morrison spoke about his wife Jenny’s struggle to conceive, during one part of his controversial sermon

Mr Morrison – sporting his new short and balding hairstyle – appeared in good spirits as he mingled with the guests and thanked ‘Christians around the country’ for their prayers over the past four years.

Mr Morrison also congratulated fellow Christian and professional tennis player Matt Ebden for his men’s doubles win at Wimbledon last week.

In the crowd were several high-profile Liberal Party members including former WA premier Richard Court – brother of Margaret Court’s husband Barry, who is a former WA Liberal Party president.

Ms Court – who celebrated her 80th birthday on Saturday – publicly supported Mr Morrison during his time as prime minister and earlier this year asked her church to pray he would be re-elected.

In a video posted to social media, she asked they come together in prayer for Mr Morrison during the uncertain times and cited the upcoming election.

‘He is a strong Christian, a family man, has good values and morals,’ she said.

‘I thank you Father that Mr Morrison be re-elected 2022, that he has favour and influence on his life to take this nation through these uncharted times, that this nation be known as the Great Southern land of the holy spirit, in Jesus’ name.’

Ms Court found herself in hot water in 2017 after she wrote a letter to Qantas about her disappointment in its support for same-sex marriage.

The former Grand Slam champion said she would no longer fly with the airline over its support.

‘I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same sex marriage,’ she wrote.

‘I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible. Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling.’

Her views on same-sex marriage sparked calls for the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne Park to be renamed – with some suggesting Aboriginal icon Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who has won seven Grand Slams, as an alternative. 

 

Ms Court (pictured with her husband Barry) publicly supported Mr Morrison during his time as prime minister and earlier this year asked her church to pray he be re-elected

Ms Court (pictured with her husband Barry) publicly supported Mr Morrison during his time as prime minister and earlier this year asked her church to pray he be re-elected

Ms Court (pictured with her husband) sparked controversy in 2017 after she wrote a letter to Australian airline Qantas about her disappointment in its support for same-sex marriage

Ms Court (pictured with her husband) sparked controversy in 2017 after she wrote a letter to Australian airline Qantas about her disappointment in its support for same-sex marriage

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