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Govt seeking evangelical Christian vote

Last week, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello attended a religious gathering of more than 16,000 people, underscoring Government support for an increasingly important part of the electorate, Sydney's Hills District 'Bible belt'.

ABC TV's Lateline reported that the Treasurer clapped and sang with a stadium full of Pentecostal Christians at the Hillsong Church, and when he got up to speak it was to great fanfare.

It said all the political parties are aware of the growing evangelist Christian vote - especially on the fringes of cities and in the regions - many areas that are also happen, of course, to have marginal seats.

Liberal MP Bruce Baird commented: "The new charismatic Pentecostal churches are huge in number, in the number of people who go, and so, therefore, it's significant that you attend from time to time and let them know who you are, take an interest in their interests and certainly have a dialogue with the leaders."

The Treasurer's brother, high-prifile World Vision charity chief Rev Tim Costello, has reservations about the so-called prosperity Gospel, which has been promoted at the Hillsong Church and given expression in Senior pastor Brian Houston's book You Need More Money".

"Some of the quotes in that book I felt were very troubling because the American televangelists who also preach a prosperity gospel, have bred the greatest cynicism that you might have towards authentic Christian faith by turning it into that get-rich formula."

But he conceded that his brother went to Hillsong with the right political motivation.

"Look, I think any politician asked to speak to 20,000 people recognises the potential and I think Peter did that," he said. "Peter would also justifiably point out that he has Christian convictions and any group that invites him to speak, particularly if it's a strong group of Christians."

Evangelist Christian vote wanted (ABC TV Lateline 9/7/04)

Federal Treasurer Website _ Interview with John Laws 6/7/04 | Address to National Day of Thanksgiving Commemoration, Scots Church, Melbourne, 29/5/04

13 Jul 2004