I wrote this story in The Australian newspaper regarding Rugby Australia’s plan to sack Israel Folau:
The so-called Israel Folau affair, if we dismantle the humbug, can be summed up quite simply.
If the young man is not free to state his religious views, let alone Christian views, then we are all in trouble.
It would be helpful if people analysed what he said before condemning him to rugby oblivion.
He issued a warning to “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, hell awaits you, repent, only Jesus saves”.
“Jesus Christ loves you and has given you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
For this he faces, it appears, the termination of his playing career.
Of course, the fools who run Australian Rugby, and I use the word advisedly, because on so many other fronts, they have proven their foolishness — are preaching breach of contract while at the same time demonstrably being in breach of their own procedures.
Before proclaiming Folau’s guilt, one would have thought he is entitled to the deliberation of a tribunal. And perhaps, just perhaps, Israel might be given a chance to defend himself.
No, none of that. We have read that his contract is to be ripped up and he will never play again.
And in an edict reminiscent of a Romanian or Soviet dictator, he has been banned from joining his teammates in training and is not welcome at team functions.
As former federal MP Wilson Tuckey wrote at the weekend, “In the days of the Roman Empire, to stand up in public to espouse your Christianity was most likely to result in a trip to the Colosseum for a brief meeting with a couple of hungry lions for the entertainment of the masses. The Israel Folau case indicates that little has changed in today’s ‘progressive empire’.’’
Those arguing for the prosecution of the young man preach about terms of his contract and the “values of the game”. If the “values” of the game involve censorship or, what’s worse, termination for articulating Christian values that are as old as Christianity itself, then it is Rugby Australia that needs to change not Folau.
Of course, Rugby Australia wants to parade as guardians of morality yet this has got nothing to do with morality and everything to do with money.
Qantas presumably has threatened to pull its sponsorship. It has played this game before. The Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has tried this on in the past.
He is entitled to his view even though, apparently, Israel is not. But surely he cannot appropriate his view to the whole Qantas family. Alan Joyce apparently does not agree with Israel, but there are thousands in the Qantas family who do not agree with Alan Joyce.
Israel Folau is from a devoutly religious Polynesian family. He has not sought to impose his views on anybody. He has merely repeated, as one correspondent wrote at the weekend, “what his religion has held for thousands of years. Whether you choose to believe it is up to you. And if you don’t, then probably you don’t believe in hell either. I suspect that had Folau been a Muslim stating exactly the same religious beliefs that, in the unlikely event he was dismissed, it would have led to calls of Islamophobia”.
We have come to the turning point in a long road.
This has been going on for too long and the whingers, the whiners and the self-appointed victims have tried to shut people up on a variety of fronts.
They have not succeeded in shutting up Israel Folau so the demand is for punishment, banishment and termination.
It’s interesting that the drunks and the liars and the thieves and the fornicators and the atheists are not complaining. Those who are, are the ones who expect tolerance towards themselves and their views but won’t extend that tolerance to others.
And let’s face it. People who differ in their views from Israel Folau, and there are many, have the same opportunity as he has to put their views on social media; and are free to criticise him. But they don’t want that. Minorities know that in today’s world you can shut anyone up if you complain and whinge loudly enough.
Here is a young man, a dedicated Christian expressing a legitimate view based on biblical teaching and he has been made a pariah.
Put simply, Christians around the world are under siege. It appears that sanctions of the most draconian kind are now being imposed on Christians here who dare to proclaim their faith.
It is interesting to note that Israel’s post was “liked” by several of his teammates.
Consistency has never been the long suit of the discredited administrators of Australian rugby. But if they are to be consistent here, they surely must sack his teammates.
But there are a lot of Pacific island players around the world, also deeply religious, who support Israel Folau.
Is not Qantas in partnership with a national airline whose government imposes laws infinitely more damaging to homosexuals than Israel’s utterance of his biblical beliefs?
But without the Qantas money, I hear it argued, rugby goes broke and Israel has destroyed the game.
This is fanciful nonsense.
Rugby Australia has proven unable to adequately manage the game and its finances to such an extent that it now has to go cap in hand to Qantas and, shamefully, do its bidding.
What is the old saying? We’ll jump, just tell us how high.
Interestingly, the federal government recently appointed an eminent former High Court judge, Robert French, to investigate the denial of free speech in universities.
Among other things, French argued that the perception of a free speech crisis is enough to create a chilling effect on the flow of ideas.
In a 300-page report, the former High Court chief justice recommends that universities adopt a model code that states that staff and students have a right to enjoy freedom of speech.
Rugby Australia should adopt a similar model code and be done with the hypocrites who demand tolerance and approval which they won’t extend to others.
Not for the first time, Israel Folau has shown a rare degree of moral courage.
It is in this, even beyond his rugby skills, that the example lies for young people who have been his supporters. Rugby has joined a battle in the minds of the vast majority of the rugby public that it cannot win.