Rugby authorities in Australia have terminated Israel Folau’s contract after a social media post in which he bluntly expressed the Bible’s teaching.
The rugby star, regarded as one of the best players in the world, posted an image with a message on his Instagram account.
The words in the image said, ‘Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters, hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.’
He accompanied the image with his own comment, ‘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.’ And he also quoted Galatians 5:19-21.
But the rugby authorities in Australia said, ‘He does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts. In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.’
Australia’s sponsor Qantas, whose chief executive Alan Joyce is openly gay, said Folau’s post was ‘really disappointing’.
But Canberra church minister Ian Powell said, ‘Many members of the “Rugby community” may feel Rugby Australia is being disrespectful by condemning what the New Testament clearly teaches – tolerance does not mean you have to agree with me, us or our major sponsor.
‘I’m not saying that what Izzy said was well put. It’s just worth noting how ordinary classical Jesus-type teaching is now totally unacceptable to the elites. Nothing really changes much on that front.’
Folau has been supported by England rugby international Billy Vunipola, which has led to calls for him to face disciplinary action by the RFU. But fellow England international Courtney Lawes defended Vunipola’s freedom of speech.
He wrote, ‘I don’t have a faith like yourself my brother so I don’t share the same views in this matter but I do believe you should be able to voice your own opinions and beliefs as you see fit.
‘To everyone getting worked up about these posts I ask you if you don’t believe in the same things as them, then what do these statements matter to you? Can we not disagree with someone without calling them a bigot or a homophobe or every other name under the sun?
‘And by the way, if you’re going to say you’re accepting of everyone then be accepting of everyone, not just the people you agree with.’