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Synopsis

From the Hillsong Church to the Family First Party, Australia appears to be experiencing an evangelical revival. In the second Quarterly Essay for 2006, Amanda Lohrey investigates that revival - its shape and scope, and what it means for the mainstream churches and the nation's politics. She talks to young believers and analyses the machinations of the Christian Right. She discusses, with humour and insight, the appeal of the megachurch, the changing image of Jesus and the political theories of George Pell and Peter Jensen. Voting for Jesus is also an essay about the use and abuse of religion in party politics. Examining the success of Family First, Lohrey argues that Christians in politics have far less influence than they would like - the government uses them when convenient and otherwise disregards them. Blending individual interviews with political argument, she makes a subtle case for the blessings of secularism and the variety of spiritual encounters it makes possible.

"[W]hen Peter Costello waved his arms in the Hillsong auditorium and Steve Fielding was catapulted into the Senate, Christian spokesmen were quick to claim that Australia was undergoing a religious revival, though no-one thought to relay this information to Pope Benedict XVI. In August 2005, the Pope issued a dire warning: mainstream Christianity was dying out more quickly in Australia than anywhere else in the world." —Amanda Lohrey, Voting For Jesus

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