Faith in the Sunshine State: Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the religious culture of Queensland

Harrison, John (John Murray) (1991). Faith in the Sunshine State: Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the religious culture of Queensland PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Harrison, John (John Murray)
Thesis Title Faith in the Sunshine State: Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the religious culture of Queensland
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1991
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 558
Language eng
Subjects 220405 Religion and Society
Formatted abstract
This study is an exploration of the significance of religious factors in the political philosophy and policies of Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland 1968-1987. The study is presented in four sections. The first section examines the manner in which the religious culture of Queensland was formed in the nineteenth century, giving particular attention to three influences. First, the historical roots of pietist influence in Queensland, its trans-sectarian character, and its relationship to fundamentalism. Secondly, the impact of distance on the development of ecclesiastical structures and the way this reinforced pietistic conceptions of religion in Queensland. Thirdly, the promotion - since the earliest days of free settlement in the colony of Moreton Bay - of a doctrine of 'prosperity theology' which was not simply a theological justification for an already existing secular idea, but which may have been formative in the evolution of the notion of 'development', a notion political scientists have discerned to be one of the foundations of the political culture of Queensland.

The second section follows Bjelke-Petersen's religious and political formation in the South Burnett district of Queensland through his youth and early adulthood; his entry to Parliament; his years on the backbench in both Opposition and Government; his accession to Cabinet and ultimately to the premiership. Attention is given to the way in which the Lutheran tradition was mediated to Bjelke-Petersen during his formative years, not only by his parents, but also by his religious and political mentors, as they formed part of the religious culture of the South Burnett district. Here Bjelke-Petersen's clear affinity with the dominant characteristics of the religious culture prevailing in Queensland is identified The third section focuses on the years of Bjelke-Petersen's premiership and upon the emergence of a challenge in religious terms not only to Bjelke-Petersen and some of the policies of his  administration, but also to the prevailing ethos of the religious culture of Queensland. This challenge addressed issues of human rights and civil liberties, aboriginal land rights, industrial relations, human relationships and electoral justice.

The fourth section traces the reassertion during the nineteen seventies and nineteen eighties of pietist influences within the religious culture of Queensland in the form of fundamentalism and neo-pentecostalism, as well as the continuing religious resistance to some of the policies of Bjelke-Petersen and his administration.

Finally, it is argued that the character of pietism and neo-pietism in Queensland along with Bjelke-Petersen's populist and messianic self perception contributed to the emergence of a new form of civil religion during the years of his premiership. This civil religion has been styled a "faith in the Sunshine State."
Keyword Bjelke-Petersen, Johannes, Sir, 1911-2005 -- Religion.
Christianity -- Queensland.
Church and state -- Queensland.
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Document type: Thesis
Collections: Queensland Past Online (QPO)
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Created: Thu, 12 Nov 2009, 09:40:05 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service