Originally published in Stuff New Zealand
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denounced “disgusting” critics who likened his worshipping at a weekend church service to the Nazi salute, in a broader stinging attack on “grubs” and “gutless keyboard warriors”.
Morrison, who along with Labor leader Bill Shorten temporarily suspended the federal election campaign to celebrate Easter services last Sunday, attended the Pentecostal Horizon Church in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire with wife Jenny and young daughters Lily and Abbey.
Morrison allowed television cameras and photographers to accompany him into church in a move that took some government MPs by surprise.
Images of the Prime Minister clapping, singing and raising his hands in the air were roundly mocked on social media, including by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union which removed a post featuring a picture of Morrison with the words “Beware of false prophets (or should that be profits?)”.
“There was another one, another group, who was likening my praise in my own church on the weekend to some sort of Hitler salute,” Morrison said outside a Buddhist temple in Victoria on Monday.
“I mean, it’s disgusting. Australians are bigger than that. And I know that the great majority of Australians are bigger than that. These grubs are gutless and keyboard warriors in their mother’s basement trying to make heroes of themselves.”
Morrison also condemned some anti-Adani protesters who had used social media to liken working for the proposed Queensland coal mine to being under the control of Nazi Germany.
“I find those comments abhorrent,” Morrison said.
“Here we are today, in this beautiful place, celebrating diversity of faith and cultures, and to see that sort of thing going on in Australia, I think, is an absolute disgrace.
“What I find appalling about that is that it’s not an isolated view amongst a lot of those protesters. Go and look on their social media contributions, you see a fair bit of that.”
The Shorten family attended a Sunday service in Brisbane.
Morrison earlier this year said faith was “an incredibly important part of who I am and that’s why I’ve never hidden it”.
“I think in public life people have a right to know who you are – are you married, do you have kids, what’s your favourite team – people are interested in all these things and I don’t have any beef with that and that includes where am I at late on a Sunday morning or on a Tuesday night in my own room where I pray,” he said.
“The thing about my faith is it teaches you humility and it teaches you about your weaknesses, it teaches you about being mindful of others’ weaknesses.
“How does it affect my policy? As I said in my first speech, it’s not a policy issue and I openly accept and celebrate that people of the same faith will have different political views.”