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Australian PM interviewed by Hillsong leader Brian Houston

by Cara Bentley

Scott Morrison, leader of the Liberal Party, went to the conference with his wife Jenny Morrison and was interviewed on stage in front of 21,000 people by the founder Brian Houston.

When asked what he feels about the place of the church in Australia amidst so much social change, he said: "It's difficult, I'm not a pastor, I'm a Prime Minister. 

"You'll hear lots of things from lots of people this week, what my request and have your congregations reach out and love those around you. 

"There's a lot of talk about our freedoms as Christians in this country and they should be protected. Australia is a free country, there's nothing more fundamental than the freedom of belief, whatever that belief might be, whether you have one or you don't, it might be of a different religion, it might be a different faith, but the freedom to believe is so important and that needs to be nourished and it needs to be protected.

"But what this country needs more than that is the love of God". 

Scott Morrison went on to speak about how, as a child, he heard stories about missionaries in Soviet Russia, "when there were Christians under persecution, you didn't hear stories that were complaining about their rights, they would just love them in those situations and they were out there for God and that was their response. This country needs more love, less judgment."

Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong, then asked the Prime Minister about freedom of religion, saying "Without you having to give policy or anything, do you believe that it will be secured for churches to feel safe in terms of their beliefs?"

"Yeah I do, I do," the Prime Minister replied, "This is one of the things that I feel passionately about since I first went into parliament 12 years ago. I talked about it in the first speech I ever gave and yeah, of course, we'll do what we must do from a legislative point of view and the law. 

"But what I think's great, and I want to thank everyone - it doesn't matter how you voted, as Brian said, I want to thank everyone here, outside of here, for their prayers. It didn't matter where Jenny and I went in the country, there would be someone come up to us and they'd talk about how they'd been praying for us and fasting for us. 

"What that boils down to, I think, is a culture in this country. It's not the laws that makes freedom of religion work, it's the culture that accepts it. So, I speak about my faith here with Jenny because I want everyone in this place to feel comfortable about talking their faith in this country, its not a political agenda, it's just who we are. It's who you are. And whoever you are - be who God made you."

He also prayed for Australia, saying "what the nation needs is more prayer and more worship.

"I want to pray for the drought. Let's pray. Lord, we just pray for rain,

"That rain will fall on this nation. Lord, that you will restore those communities and that you will see a prosperity in this nation in the rain that you bring."

He also prayed for veterans, saying: "We proclaim it with veterans, we proclaim it with young people, we proclaim it with middle-age people going through difficult trials, people suffering from mental health, we pray for remote Indigenous communities, young boys and girls ... and we pray for all those families who live with disabilities...we pray you will give them peace and an avalanche of love.

"Lord, we pray for our country and thank you for it. But more than anything else, we thank you for Jesus and his love."

The Prime Minister has been criticised for endorsing Brian Houston, who has previously been accused of not doing enough to expose his father's sexual abuse of young boys. 

Brian Houston sacked his father from his role as a pastor in 1999, but wrote to churches telling them not to make the allegations public, and did not inform police of the multiple allegations.

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