Just when you thought we’d heard enough about Israel Folau, he’s come back swinging.
This time, he’s delivered a Sunday sermon at his Sydney church, doubling down on his homophobic attacks and, this time, taking aim at transgender youths.
The footage, uploaded to The Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney Facebook page shows the sacked Wallabies player ranting about what “the devil is trying to instil” in society (a.k.a. homosexuality, a.k.a. people living their truths), blaming the government for gender fluidity, and ripping into churches for allowing same-sex marriages.
If that isn’t the cherry on top of the Pride Month sundae, I don’t know what is.
Given that he’s seeking $10 million in compensation from his former employer, Rugby Australia, for damages after they booted him from his $5 million contract, something tells me this latest tirade won’t help his case.
So hold onto your hats, here’s some of his speech.
He opens with an anecdote about a parliamentarian speaking at a Christian function about “what the parliament is trying to instil into the government going forward.” And that is: “the work of sin, homosexuality, is in disguise to try and take over within this world.”
Welp, I suppose that’s it then, the gays are taking over.
“You see in today’s youths and everything, they are allowing young kids in primary school to be able to have the permission to change their gender is they want by taking away the permission fo their parents.”
Which is especially troubling to our ranting rugby star, because, according to him, kids 16 years or younger, “don’t even know what they are doing”. I’m sure high schoolers (and senior primary students) around the country would beg to differ.
“They say that a man and a man should be able to be married and there is nothing wrong with it. This buys into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth.”
Apparently, “this [homosexuality] is what the devil’s trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into this society, and it’s slowly happening. The sad thing is why a lot of people out there that are non-Christians say bad things about the church, is because a lot of the churches allow those things to happen.”
Mental note to self: if I need a hole dug deeper………..call #Israel #folau #israelfolau
— Anthony 💁🏼 (@AnthonyShaw250) June 16, 2019
Finally, he says to his congregation of “born-again Christians” that they might be scared of being cast out “because we’re not liked or loved by those around us and [they] don’t believe the same thing we do”. But, um, Issy, that sounds like the experience and fear of every ‘closeted’ LGBT+ person ever.
Now, I know that he’s legally entitled to freedom of religion and speech; but the last time I checked, there was a difference between hate speech and toxic vitriol, and expressing your opinion. And, tbh, I think some of his facts need some adjusting – the government’s doing the bidding of the devil by allowing kids to wear what they want in the uniform? I’m not so sure about that one, mate.
Once again, old mate Issy has crossed the line. When will he learn?
He’s free to do what he wants now. If he expects to be able international-level sport of any code, though, he is as misguided as his rants #israelfolau #israelfool #pitythefolau
— 🔥₽๎ᝤᶒя ᶢ ᶃเ𐤄𐤄ᦳ𐌏ᠡ💧 (@p_terg) June 16, 2019
The problem is not solely with what he said – though there are issues with that – the issue is his status, and the way he has used his influential platform. A celebrity of his status should take care to ensure they are making positive contributions to society, not negatives. I while respect his opinion, and I respect his right to have it, I don’t appreciate his (or anyone’s) use of his powerful position to beat down on those beneath him. I take issue with the big guy preaching vitriol about a marginalised group of people.
There are so many positive aspects of Christianity, as a confirmed Anglican I, yeah, I get it. What about the lessons of doing good? Of loving thy neighbour? To do to others what you wish done to you? And, perhaps most relevant of all, to avoid judgment and to respect the different values, beliefs, and lives of others. Mark 9:38-40 says:
John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.’ Jesus replied, ‘Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.’
The bottom line is, Christianity (and I believe other religious denominations are the same) is about love. But this language is full of hate and malice.
To Israel (and to, frankly, the whole world): I respect your opinions and beliefs (religious or otherwise), and your right to have them, it’s up to you to respect the lives and lifestyles of those around you. They deserve to exist as much as you do. They deserve to live as they please – as long as it doesn’t cause harm or pose a threat to society.
Remember: we’re all here to live, to co-exist on this planet while we’ve got it. Just think about that.
Images: Fox Sports, GIPHY
EDIT (12:23pm): This article was amended to avoid confusion around the author’s perspective on Christianity as a faith.