Remember him? I blogged about his case last month. Israel Folau’s a major rugby star in Australia and a Bible-believing Christian prone to posting things on social media which — well, which Christians believe. Like this:
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Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
Still not sure about “drunks” there, but eh.
That’s the post that ended his career as a member of the Wallabies, Australia’s national team. The panel that barred him concluded that the sport needed to “stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork,” never mind that Folau didn’t single out gays and didn’t deem them condemned. This was an invitation to all sinners to repent. The rugby governing body seems to have determined that to express this well-known Christian belief — or even merely to hold it? — is tantamount to creating a hostile workplace for gay teammates and employees. If Folau has attempted to shame any gay friends or colleagues or to pressure them to repent in his contact with them as part of the rugby team, I’m unaware of it. The ruling in this case seems to be, straightforwardly, that you cannot evangelize as a Christian even on your own time and represent Australia. If forced to choose in the name of “inclusion” whether to include gays or Christians, the sport chooses the former. Never mind that Folau himself never demanded that such a choice be made.
He’s fighting the ban in court and trying to raise big bucks to do it. The GoFundMe page he launched to pay legal costs brought in more than $750,000 — before it was yanked offline by the company as a violation of their policy. “We do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” said management in a statement. The “exclusion” of what? Of gays from … heaven? It wasn’t Folau who set that policy as far as Christians are concerned, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, some critics, not content to drive him from his own sport, are apparently now targeting Folau’s wife to see if they can get her kicked out of her own sport for having helped promote her husband’s GoFundMe campaign, per Rod Dreher.
He’s now launched a new fundraising page at the Australian Christian Lobby with a personal appeal in the form of the video below to help promote it. Result: More than $1.6 million raised in just 24 hours, making his case a bona fide international cause celebre among Christians. And not just Christians. Dreher flagged this notable op-ed from a few weeks ago by bioethicist Peter Singer, not normally an ally of the right’s. Singer takes freedom of conscience seriously, though:
If Rugby Australia had existed in the first century of the Christian era, and Paul had had enough talent to be a contracted player, Rugby Australia would presumably have ripped up his contract once his letter to the Corinthians became public. That makes it quite bizarre that Castle should have justified Folau’s dismissal by saying, “People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality.” Did she mean that you can feel welcomed in rugby, regardless of your religious beliefs, as long as you don’t express them in public? That looks a lot like telling homosexuals that they can do what they want in the privacy of their bedroom, but they must not show their affection in public because some people might find it offensive…
[T]ry putting yourself in the position of someone with Folau’s beliefs. You see people on a path toward a terrible fate – much worse than getting lung cancer, because death will not release them from their agony – and they are blind to what awaits them. Wouldn’t you want to warn them, and give them the chance to avoid that awful fate? I assume that is what Folau believes he is doing. He even tells homosexuals that Jesus loves them, and calls on them to repent so that they can avoid burning in hell for eternity. That doesn’t sound like hate speech.
Folau’s Instagram post “no more expresses hatred toward homosexuals than cigarette warnings express hatred toward smokers,” notes Singer, quite rightly. If you want to throw him a few bucks to help the legal battle for freedom of conscience, feel free by following the link above. But do note: Folau’s net worth is estimated in the millions thanks to his rugby contracts and endorsement deals (some of which he’s now lost), and some critics are skeptical that he needs anywhere near the $3 million he’s requesting in order to conduct this court fight. Greed is a sin too, they note. Repent!