From the Hillsong Church to the Family First Party, Australia appears to be experiencing an evangelical revival.
In Voting for Jesus, 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
‘What a treat it was to read Voting for Jesus! Amanda Lohrey provides a rich analysis of the intersection of Christianity and politics at the 2004 election: full of humanity, sincerity and salience.” —Tim Costello
‘When I first saw this Quarterly Essay in the National Library Bookshop, I thought impatiently, “What the hell does Amanda Lohery know about Christianity?” The unequivocal answer is “A damn sight more than I expected!” I found the essay insightful, provocative, and at times quite brilliant.’ —Paul Collins
Amanda Lohrey has written two Quarterly Essays, Groundswell: The Rise of the Greens and Voting for Jesus: Christianity and Politics in Australia. She is also the author of the novella Vertigo and of the short story collection, Reading Madame Bovary, which won the Fiction Prize and the Steele Rudd Short Story Award in the 2011 Queensland Literary Awards. Her novel, The Philosopher's Doll, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2012 she was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award.