‘A new and ugly Australia’: Anglican archbishop slams treatment of Israel Folau and says rugby star’s homophobic post was full of ‘deep conscience and concern’
- Archbishop Glenn Davies says Folau’s right to express his faith is being denied
- Wallabies star was sacked in May for a post saying gay people are going to hell
- He is suing Rugby Australia for $10million, claiming he was sacked illegally
- GoFundMe shut down Folau’s campaign but Christian lobby has made new one
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney says public condemnation of Israel Folau ‘smacks of a new and ugly Australia.’
Archbishop Glenn Davies claimed Folau’s right to express his faith and act according to his conscience is of ‘fundamental importance in any democracy’.
‘It is of great concern to many Australians that this right is being denied and vilified,’ he said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Wallabies star has been trying to build up a $3million war chest from public donations to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4million contract in May.
Archbishop Glenn Davies has claimed Israel Folau’s right to express his faith is being denied and said his according to his conscience is of ‘fundamental importance in any democracy’.
Folau told his donors when he set up his GoFundMe page last week: ‘My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000.’ The couple are pictured together
The decision by RA came after Folau posted a biblical passage on social media saying ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ would go to hell unless they repented.
Folau has hit back saying he has been the victim of discrimination on religious grounds and set up a GoFundMe page, which raised more than $750,000 in about four days.
But the website shut down the campaign on Monday stating it breached its terms of service and said it would issue refunds to the more than 7,000 donors.
A fresh fundraising effort was launched on Tuesday morning by the Australian Christian Lobby, which by 5pm had received more than $1million.
Archbishop Davies said while there are deeply held views on both sides of the issue, ‘at the moment, only one side is being heard’.
‘The way in which Folau’s motives have been impugned and his avenues of support have been cut off smacks of a new and ugly Australia where dissent from narrow cultural views is not tolerated,’ he said.
The new campaign was set up by ACL Managing director Martyn Iles who said his group will donate $100,000
The archibishop claimed Folau’s original post came from a place of ‘deep conscience and concern’ and not malice.
‘It had nothing to do with rugby and it should have been his right as a citizen to speak of what he believes without threat to his employment.’
He said the clear support of ordinary Christians has been ‘ignored, marginalised and silenced’.
‘Loud, intolerant voices swamp the quiet faith of many.’
The archbishop said he prays the situation may shine a light on freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to live according to faith.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles (left with Folau) confirmed the organisation will kick off a new fund with a $100,000 donation as earlier as Tuesday
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black said he was disappointed in the ACL’s decision to throw $100,000 behind Folau’s legal case against RA.
‘All faiths have a variety of different approaches – I know many loving, caring Christians who would be horrified that that was being done in the name of Christianity,’ he told reporters in Sydney.
It’s important to be aware of the pressures that youth – including those with gender identity issues – are facing, the rabbi said.
As young people grow up they need to be nurtured, supported and recognised for who they are, he said.
‘Anybody in the public eye who speaks out against that is causing extremely dangerous upset and hurt,’ he said.