That image came from 2GB.
Whether Israel Folau should have been sacked by Rugby Union Australia will be resolved as a matter of contract law in the courts. However, elements within society are using the case to promote their agenda in terms of free speech and/or religious rights.
Until recently, I thought he should have been smacked on the wrist, given a fine or something and everyone should have gone back to playing football. That’s more or less what happened to Folau’s wife, Maria, who plays netball. Liz Ellis was upset, but everyone seems to have moved on.
Seems, though, RU did just that in April 2018, but in a matter of months Folau was back at it again. I understand because God told him to.
Fair enough, if you believe in an all-powerful god who talks to you, but then words can have consequences, sometimes harmful, and ‘God made me do it’ is maybe not an adequate defence in the courts, and of no comfort to the victims.
Be that as it may, RU has piled in and have made their situation very clear. They had no option, they say, or they would have had no sponsors, including government, and players could have sued them. For RU Australia it was quite straight forward. RU chairman Cameron Clyne:
“We are looking at it from the good of the game as a whole. No one is suggesting this is helpful but I would go back to Israel Folau’s comments from last year when he said if it was hurting the game he’d walk away for the good of the game.
“Since this issue has emerged I’ve asked those who’ve said we should have taken a different response to suggest what that alternative was and so far no one has been able to do that.
“But to those who are saying you should bankrupt the game and allow religious freedom, well we do allow religious freedom but what we don’t allow is disparagement and that’s clear under [Folau’s] contract.”
- “… was not sacked for his religion, he was sacked for a breach of his contract.”
“We’ve never given up on mediation, we’ve made many attempts, but we’ve also got to remember that this is bigger than Israel Folau, we have a duty to every other professional and community player in the game. We can’t accept a scenario where contracts become arbitrary.”
To say that Folau was sacked at the behest of sponsors, was offensive and wrong, he said.
Here’s a statement from NSW RU.
It does seem clear that if the RU had not acted, some players would have refused to play with Folau.
Tim Soutphommasane in Let me speak freely: our freedom of speech ‘crisis’ is culture warriors’ codswallop says:
Everyone stop, and repeat after me: There is no crisis of free speech. Freedom of religion has not been suppressed. Political correctness has not gone mad.
He says that freedom can ever be absolute, including freedom of religion.
It seems obvious to me that speech is an act which can do harm, and responsibility for harm remains, irrespective of motivation.
it simply isn’t true that Folau’s religious freedoms have been fundamentally encroached. Folau can still say what he likes about homosexuals and sinners. It’s just that saying that may come with consequences. That’s not free speech being unjustly restrained. That’s Folau choosing his religious conviction over his contractual obligations. A choice he is free to make. It’s hard to see how Folau is a victim.
David Marr says With Israel Folau the church demands a kind of free speech that keeps gays in the firing line. He says the churches want to turn a right into a privilege, and use that privilege to discriminate against people they don’t approve of.
Frank Brennan has now weighed in with a conversation with Michelle Grattan on Israel Folau and religious freedom:
Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and member of the expert panel on Religious Freedom set up by Malcolm Turnbull, says the Israel Folau matter is a “simple freedom of contract case regardless of Mr. Folau’s religious views”.
“I think the question is, did he voluntarily, and for a very large sum of money, agree with his employer to follow a work code which included an undertaking not to make statements on social media about various things which may or may not have a religious component?”
He sees the way forward as a Religious Discrimination Act, recommended by the review, in line with other existing anti-discrimination laws on race and gender.
As for issues to do with religious schools, “Penny Wong’s bill was correct,” he said – referring to the Senator’s Amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act late last year which sought to remove the capacity of religious schools to directly discriminate against students on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
The only addition needed to this, he said, would be a clear commitment that “religious schools are free to teach their doctrine”.
It’s complicated, because we don’t have a legislated or constitutional human rights bill as such, and the constitution puts protection of religion in a section dealing with the States, which have the usual mess of legislated provisions, some more adequate than others. Brennan explains at some length.
Brennan thinks a law on religious discrimination would show that we take religion seriously. However, the matter of employment raises difficulties.
- what is important as an ideal is the idea that a very evangelical or very religious school be able to employ teachers who get with the message, get with the ethos of the institution.
And that to legislate about this would be heavy-handed.
I think, in the real world, a homophobic school principal will make life hell for a gay employee, whatever the law.
Folau’s GoFundMe page was taken down for breaching the platform’s terms of service, only to be replaced by The Australian Christian Lobby, where supporters have tipped in a couple of million.
Now Folau has been brutally mocked in a mural appearing in Sydney’s inner west:
Here’s a detail:
This ABC article says Folau’s property empire has an estimated worth of about $7m and he recently sold a $500,000 Lamborghini.
The artist, Scott Marsh, cites a Bible verse from Matthew 19:4.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,” Marsh wrote on Instagram.
If it opens for you, here’s Folau’s post re-posted on Facebook.
Here’s the image Folau posted on Instagram:
And this is what Folau posted next to it:
According to some person on FB, the KJV does not use term “homosesexuals”. It does use the term `whoremongers’. Apparently, the well regarded NIV translation states:
- “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Probably this one from 1 Timothy 1:10 may be relevant:
- For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
Then you can also have a discussion about the word “sodomy”, which has generally been frowned on, although the word in not in the King James Version of the Bible, as well as the NKJV, NASB, and the NIV. The word does not appear in English until the 1300’s AD.
Folau’s quote does not support his inclusion of homosexuals in the graphic. However, who knows what version his sect uses!
For those who prioritise reason over faith, Folau’s list includes only one category where people are deemed at fault where they don’t actually have a choice. By and large, gender is not a lifestyle choice. People are being condemned for how God made them, if you believe in God.
My younger son tells me that Instagram is a public medium. Anyone can see what you post there.
My conclusion is that Folau ethically should not do what he did, work contract or no work contract.
There’s more at the 7.30 Report
Also FWIW Gillian Triggs supports Israel Folau’s right to religious expression.
She accepts that the matter will be decided by contract law, but believes that freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional right which should not be constrained by employers. She did say along the way that speech may harm, but she considers it “foolish” and “disproportionate” to constrain the expression of religious belief of this kind. However, the court may find homosexuality an “attribute” needing protection.
While she would prefer a broad charter of human rights, Triggs is open to the possibility of laws that protect “attributes” as well as religious freedoms.
Thankyou, Ms Triggs! Good to know that homosexuality is a mere attribute!