The Methodist love affair with the Australian Labor Party, 1891-1929

The Methodist love affair with the Australian Labor Party, 1891-1929
methodistchurchballaratAll love affairs are based on some grounds of compatibility, and the case of Methodism and the Labor Movement is no exception. What made these two movements compatible? Wherein did their interests coincide?

Australia and the Methodist Church were born at approximately the same time (1788 and 1795, respectively) and grew up together. Of course, Methodism as a movement began much earlier in the eighteenth century just as the idea of establishing a British outpost in the South Pacific pre-dated 1788. As it turned out, Australia outlasted the Methodists, who as a denomination are now virtually non-existent in this land.

But for a considerable length of time while the Methodists were here, there was an intimate relationship between these most fervent of all evangelical Christians and the Australian Labor Party. This relationship began when the country was still young and lasted well into its maturity. Why was this tie so close? What were some of the results of this relationship? And why did it come to an end around 1929, when James Scullin became the first Roman Catholic Prime Minister of Australia?

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Image: Methodist Church Sovereign Hill, Ballarat Victoria

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