Members of the Christian Brethren in the 19th century (Image: Christian Brethren)

In 1989 a then 21-year-old Scott Morrison wrote a detailed thesis for his Bachelor of Science honours degree. His topic, Crikey can reveal, was the local history of a relatively obscure evangelical church known as the Christian Brethren.

The full title of Morrison’s 154-page thesis is “Religion and Society, a Micro Approach: an Examination of the Christian Brethren Assemblies in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, 1964-1989”.

Morrison’s thesis is not easy to find. Crikey has been trying for weeks. Written for his course at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) school of geography, Morrison’s thesis is now kept 17,000 kilometres away in a specialist archive at the University of Manchester — the world’s leading collection of Christian Brethren books, periodicals and magazines. A niche topic to be sure.

Commonly known as the Plymouth Brethren (named after the English town where the group began), the Christian Brethren spread its conservative brand of Christianity around the world from the early 1800s. The brethren divided into two groups: the highly secretive, strictly patriarchal Exclusive Brethren and the non-hierarchical Open Brethren which is more integrated in the general community. Morrison was briefly part of this church as a teenager before shifting to the jazzier — yet still conservative — Baptist church down the road.

As a rising politician, Scott Morrison never hid the role of faith in his life. In his first address to Parliament in 2008, he shared the Christian lessons he’d learnt from his family; he also paid tribute to the Uniting Church Reverend Ray Green and Hillsong pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Coleman.

We contacted the prime minister’s office to confirm that the Scott John Morrison listed as the author of the Christian Brethren thesis for the UNSW school of geography in 1989 was the same Scott John Morrison who attended UNSW and graduated from the school of geography in 1989. We have received no response.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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