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Israel Folau slams GoFundMe for running a ‘campaign of discrimination’

Israel Folau has slammed GoFundMe for running a ‘campaign of discrimination’ after taking down his fundraiser.  

GoFundMe took down the page on Monday, after the embattled Waratahs star attempted to crowd fund $3million for impending legal fees in a battle with Rugby Australia. 

‘The decision of GoFundMe to cancel Israel’s fundraising campaign to support his Legal Action Fund is very disappointing,’ a statement released on Monday afternoon said.   

‘The fundraising campaign was in line with GoFundMe’s Terms and Conditions as well as all relevant rules and regulations.

‘Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause.

‘There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.’ 

Folau (pictured with his wife) signed a four-year contract in 2018 worth an estimated $5million and has been one of the country’s best paid sportsmen since joining rugby union in 2013

The statement thanked more than 10,000 Australians who supported Folau during his crowdfunding.

‘Since requesting public donations to help him with his legal action against Rugby Australia, Israel and his supporters have come under intense scrutiny in the media,’ the statement continued. 

‘Further, Israel’s website has been the target of what we believe was a sustained cyberattack and there has been a deliberate and attempt to vilify his wife Maria for supporting her husband.’ 

According to the statement, ‘several organisations’ are willing to help Folau to raise money ahead of his legal case.  

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles, who backed the GoFundMe page, said Folau’s supporters would find other ways to raise money.

‘Yes, GoFundMe has pulled the page. People are actively working on a solution,’ he wrote on Facebook. 

‘For now, I won’t be able to keep updating beyond this as things are completely insane at my end.’

The Christian leader appeared on breakfast shows Today and Sunrise on Monday morning and said he had interviews lined up with other broadcast outlets on Monday afternoon.    

‘Appreciate your prayers,’ he signed off.

Mr Iles’ Facebook update has been inundated with comments, with many Christian followers commending the managing director and Folau.

One supporter wrote: ‘It’s good work you’re doing Martyn. Keep going. We”l keep our prayers happening, and we will keep funding ACL as well as Israel Foloau’s fund, as soon as an alternative is set up’.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles (left with Folau), who backed the GoFundMe page, said Folau's supporters would find other ways to raise money

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles (left with Folau), who backed the GoFundMe page, said Folau’s supporters would find other ways to raise money

Mr Illes referred to GoFundMe pulling down the page in Facebook post on Monday

Mr Illes referred to GoFundMe pulling down the page in Facebook post on Monday

‘I hope you can find a way around this discriminating decision. I have little funds, but would like to contribute something to this worthy fight for our freedoms,’ said another. 

One urged for other means to donate money: ‘Publish some bank account details please’. 

‘He can set up his own back account if he wishes. If people wish to donate, it’s nobody else’s business,’ another person wrote. 

Some followers suggested Folau could use a Christian crowdfunding service to raise money for his legal fees.      

Before the page was removed, Mr Iles told Today: ‘We support it [the GoFundMe page] because of what it’s been able to do, because it’s been able to give people a voice’.

‘There were a lot of people who were contacting us and asking for an opportunity to in a tangible way support Israel and be a part of that movement and he’s given them the platform to do that.’

‘I think that the amount of money that has come into that fund over the last few days shows that there’s a whole lot of Australians who resonate with his cause, they feel like Israel’s case is their case.’  

 

The move has deeply divided opinion, with critics accusing the for-profit company of hypocrisy for shutting Folau down

The move has deeply divided opinion, with critics accusing the for-profit company of hypocrisy for shutting Folau down

The removal of the GoFundMe page has deeply divided opinion, with critics accusing the for-profit company of hypocrisy for shutting Folau down.

Leading the criticism was Queensland Liberal National Senator James McGrath.

He wrote: ‘The true test of a democratic nation is not how we treat those with whom we agree but how we treat the rights of those with whom we disagree.

‘Freedom of speech is timeless and should not be restricted by the leftist gormless oxygen thieves of GoFundMe.’

New South Wales One Nation leader Mark Latham also slammed the decision and claimed there is a ‘reign of terror’ against Christians in Australia. 

However, other people praised GoFundMe for taking a tough stance.

‘No we will not fund your homophobia. Solid message,’ wrote one person on Twitter.    

However, other people praised GoFundMe for taking a tough stance

However, other people praised GoFundMe for taking a tough stance

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia last month for beaching his contract with an Instagram post that said gay people are sinners and will go to hell.

The 30-year-old claims his sacking was illegal and is demanding $10million in damages.

Despite being a multi-millionaire with a $6million property portfolio, he asked regular Australians to pay $3million for his legal fees via a GoFundMe campaign.

After being live for six days, the controversial campaign was removed on Monday and the page only read ‘Campaign Not Found’. 

A GoFundMe spokeswoman confirmed the page was taken down because it violated its terms and said donations will be refunded. 

‘While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion’, she said in a statement. 

On Monday, Folau's controversial page was removed and the website only read 'Campaign Not Found'

On Monday, Folau’s controversial page was removed and the website only read ‘Campaign Not Found’

The fullback of Tongan descent said he and his wife Maria (pictured together) have spent $100,000 of his own money on legal bills so far – but are bracing for much higher fees to come

GoFundMe was accused of allowing the page to stay up for six days so it could sit on donors’ money while it gained interest. 

One critic wrote on Twitter: ‘GoFundMe should also pay interest over the donors’ money.

Poll

Was GoFundMe right to take down the page?

  • Yes 1065 votes
  • No 435 votes
  • Undecided 40 votes

‘I find #gofundme’s claim that it is only now that it discovers that #Folau’s campaign violates their terms of service both ridiculous & unbelievable. They should have rejected Folau’s campaign at the outset.’  

The GoFundMe spokeswoman said the page stayed up to allow for a ‘routine period of evaluation’.   

Folau’s fundraising efforts were met with a wave of criticism on Friday.

Former Wallaby and teammate Drew Mitchell laid into the star, saying sick children were more deserving of support.

And Sydney Independent state MP Alex Greenwich urged people to donate to World Vision’s campaign to end child slavery instead.

‘If you are truly interested in supporting a Christian cause… do not donate to the #Folau fund,’ he posted on Twitter.     

‘We do not tolerate discrimination’: GoFundMe’s statement on Folau 

Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors. After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service.

As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity. While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.

In the days since Mr Folau’s campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe. 

Our platform exists to help people help others. Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world. We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years. 

Despite being a muti-millionaire with a $6million property portfolio, Folau asked regular Australians to pay $3million for his legal fees via a GoFundMe campaign

Despite being a muti-millionaire with a $6million property portfolio, Folau asked regular Australians to pay $3million for his legal fees via a GoFundMe campaign 

Folau signed a four-year contract in 2018 worth an estimated $5million and has been one of the country’s best paid sportsmen since joining rugby union in 2013. 

But Rugby Australia said he breached his contract which stated he must treat people equally and fairly.

Folau insists he was only sharing a message from the Bible and his sacking has cost him the ‘best years’ of his playing career.

His fundraising page, launched last Tuesday, featured a video of him talking to the camera cut with pictures of his childhood.  

The fullback of Tongan descent said he and his wife Maria have spent $100,000 of his own money on legal bills so far – but are bracing for much higher fees to come.

Last Sunday Folau launched another attack on gay people and also criticised young people being allowed to change gender during a sermon (pictured) at his Sydney church

Last Sunday Folau launched another attack on gay people and also criticised young people being allowed to change gender during a sermon (pictured) at his Sydney church

‘That was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes.

‘The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court,’ he wrote.

On Friday morning he spoke publicly about the saga for the first time on Alan Jones’ 2GB radio show.

The star said he did not intend to offend gay people and revealed he is motivated by ‘standing up for the word of God’.  

‘From my perspective this comes from a place of love… so they can repent if they chose to and turn away from that and can go to heaven.’

Explaining why he is taking Rugby Australia on, he said: ‘My principle and my faith are what’s driving me from the get-go.

‘My faith defines me as a person.

‘My identity is my faith – that’s why I want to stand up for the word of God.’

Folau lodged a claim on 6 June, claiming his sacking breached Section 772 of the Fair Work Act.

The clause states it is unlawful to terminate employment on the grounds of ­religion.

Folau shared this social media post claiming homosexuals were going to hell unless they 'repent' - and he refused to apologise

Folau shared this social media post claiming homosexuals were going to hell unless they ‘repent’ – and he refused to apologise

Last Sunday Folau launched another attack on gay people and also criticised young people being allowed to change gender during a sermon at his Sydney church.

He described homosexuality as a sin and claimed the devil was behind primary school children being allowed to decide if they wanted to change gender.

‘This is what the devil is trying to do, to instill into the government, into this world, into society, and it is slowly happening,’ Folau said in his Sunday sermon at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst.

‘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.

‘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.’

The 30-year-old’s rant was posted on the church’s Facebook page.

Folau also criticised modern ‘westernised’ churches and said true believers in Christ ‘profess him wherever we go’.

‘Are we too scared because we might be cast out by our workplace or cast out of somewhere because we’re not liked or loved by those around us and don’t believe the same thing we do?’ he asked.

‘You might be the only born-again Christian in that workplace, you might feel a bit awkward with your co-workers because they are in the world and you’re not. We should feel blessed… because God has called us.’  

The 30-year-old (center with his family as a child) was sacked after he made repeated homophobic comments on social media, claiming that homosexuals are destined for hell unless they repent for their sins

The 30-year-old (center with his family as a child) was sacked after he made repeated homophobic comments on social media, claiming that homosexuals are destined for hell unless they repent for their sins

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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