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Meet the ordinary Australians who donated to Israel Folau’s legal campaign

Israel Folau supporters say they have doubled or tripled their donations to the rugby star’s war chest claiming ‘our freedom of speech is at risk’.

Donors including a graphic designer and administration worker told Daily Mail Australia GoFundMe’s shock shutdown of Folau’s fundraiser led them to ramp up their contributions.

‘Rugby has lost a star and Aussies including me feel like my very freedoms are at risk,’ said Vicky Free, a Christian from Tweed Heads.

Israel Folau supporters say they have doubled or tripled their donations to the rugby star’s war chest claiming ‘our freedom of speech is at risk’

The ACL's fundraiser hit $1.7 million just after 10am on Wednesday - more than half the way to Folau's $3 million goal and well above more than three days of GoFundMe donations

The ACL’s fundraiser hit $1.7 million just after 10am on Wednesday – more than half the way to Folau’s $3 million goal and well above more than three days of GoFundMe donations

Ms Free donated $50 to Folau’s GoFundMe but was so angered by the company shutting it down she more than doubled her contribution to the Australian Christian Lobby’s new campaign to $120.

Office worker Alistair Laval said he didn’t even know who the talented footballer was before the controversy.

But the devout Christian tripled his intended donation because it’s ‘important Christians share the gospel’.

‘It’s up to the Christian community to help with his legal fees because it’s an issue for all of us,’ he said.

Many of the donations are coming from Australians who believe what Folau is doing is standing up for free speech.

One man, 46, who holds a senior executive job in Sydney, donated $100 to the GoFundMe and now $250 to his new campaign – and said he’s neither Christian or even a rugby supporter.

‘At the end of the day, we have to believe Folau is going to make a stand for what many of us feel – that the right to free speech in this country is being eroded,’ he said.

‘The stand had to happen – many mates my age look around and don’t like the carefree, relaxed Australia we know and love going down the toilet. I can’t come out publicly because there would be fall-out for myself and my family – but I can help out a little bit financially.’

Australian Christian Lobby director Martyn Iles (left) expects an avalanche of donations are still to come as donors get their refunds from GoFundMe

Australian Christian Lobby director Martyn Iles (left) expects an avalanche of donations are still to come as donors get their refunds from GoFundMe

Meanwhile, the Australian Christian Lobby, which has already raised about $1.7 million for Folau’s legal fees, expects an avalanche of support in the coming days.

‘A lot of people have actually said they want to give, but GoFundMe hasn’t refunded me yet,’ Martyn Iles, the group’s director, said.

Mr Iles claimed on national television that more than 15,000 people have donated to the ACL’s new fundraiser, or about 10 donors a minute.

Average Australians explained to Daily Mail Australia why they are donating to Folau’s cause.

Vicky Free, 41, from Tweed Heads, NSW – $120

Vicky Free, 41, more than doubled her donation from $50 to $120 when the ACL opened its fundraiser to replace the closed GoFundMe, and her husband is doing the same

Vicky Free, 41, more than doubled her donation from $50 to $120 when the ACL opened its fundraiser to replace the closed GoFundMe, and her husband is doing the same

Ms Free more than doubled her donation from $50 to $120 when the ACL opened its fundraiser to replace the closed GoFundMe.

‘GoFundMe shutting the page down really angered me, my husband too – he’s planning to double or triple his donation,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

Like many Christians, the graphic designer from Tweed Heads was concerned about her religious freedoms being eroded after the gay marriage vote.

‘I believe Izzy’s case will serve as a precedent for all freedom of speech, religion and expression cases to come,’ she said.

‘It’s important for all Aussies to retain those freedoms to continue to enjoy our free and relatively safe society.

‘Civil discourse needs to be open and no one should be fired for their beliefs which they practice in their spare time, well out of their employment arena.’

Ms Free said was concerned about her religious freedoms being eroded after the gay marriage vote, and that Folau's situation was an important test case

She said it was 'hypocritical and disgraceful' of RA to ban Folau 'on account of his faith' just to show it was politically correct and inclusive the LGBTQI community

Ms Free said was concerned about her religious freedoms being eroded after the gay marriage vote, and that Folau’s situation was an important test case

Ms Free hit out at ‘cowardly’ Rugby Australia for banning Folau in the first place, accusing it of buckling to political correctness and lying about its motives.

‘They were way out of line, it was a disgusting act driven by an unjust motivation,’ she claimed.

‘They bowed down to pressure from Qantas, a major sponsor, whose chief executive is a homosexual and was offended by Izzy’s post and wanted him removed. 

‘Rugby Australia was willing to lose a wonderful player in their cowardly act to please their sponsor amidst other things.’

Ms Free said it was ‘hypocritical and disgraceful’ of RA to ban Folau ‘on account of his faith’ just to show it was politically correct and inclusive the LGBTQI community.

‘It’s another example of ‘if we don’t like what you said or believe in, we’ll just shut you up and destroy your livelihood’,’ she said.

The small business owner said she understood people questioning why ordinary Australians were donating their hard-earned cash to a multimillionaire.

Ms Free hit out at 'cowardly' Rugby Australia for banning Folau in the first place, accusing it of buckling to political correctness and lying about its motives

Ms Free hit out at ‘cowardly’ Rugby Australia for banning Folau in the first place, accusing it of buckling to political correctness and lying about its motives

However, she argued Folau’s sacking set a ‘very dangerous precedent for us all’ and supporting him as a test case could help everyone.

‘Rich or poor, no-one should be discriminated against or wrongly dismissed just for practicing his faith in his spare time,’ she said.

‘Izzy was an awesome player, one of the very best. Rugby has lost a star and the Aussies, including me, feel like my very freedoms are at risk. 

‘I feel his case is very much mine. I want to support his legal actions, because he is a face for all of us.

‘It could have happened to any one of us and he definitely shouldn’t have to battle it alone.’ 

Backlash ‘sparked by progressive elite that hates dissent’

An expert claims a progressive elite that doesn’t tolerate dissent has sparked the backlash to Rugby Australia, its sponsors and GoFundMe.

Peter Kurti, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity, said Australians as a whole are generally very accepting of LGBTQI people.

Peter Kurti, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity, claims a progressive elite that doesn't tolerate dissent has sparked the backlash to Rugby Australia, its sponsors and GoFundMe

Peter Kurti, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Christianity, claims a progressive elite that doesn’t tolerate dissent has sparked the backlash to Rugby Australia, its sponsors and GoFundMe

The population voted overwhelmingly for the 2017 same sex marriage postal vote, but Reverend Kurti argued there was a progressive elite who wanted more.

‘Where there’s that general community acceptance there’s this group of – in business, the arts, the media – they’re very progressive,’ he said.

‘They don’t just want acceptance – they want endorsement, they want affirmation. They don’t tolerate dissent.

‘You have to accept their point of view on LGBTQI status… The other thing Folau has done that is counter-cultural is refuse to go along with that.’

Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was terminated after he posted to Instagram that ‘hell awaits’ gay people, adulterers and fornicators (among others.

Josh Bornstein, the principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, said an issue that has come to light from the Folau saga is ’employment contracts that have become ridiculously broad’.

‘The terms of codes of conduct and workplace policies now require employees to effectively be brand ambassadors on a 24-7 basis and to comply with requirements that Jesus Christ would not be able to comply with if he still moved amongst us,’ he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

‘If Jesus Christ still moved among us, he would be unemployable.’

Ms Free also pointed out that if the case was about money for Folau, he would have ‘taken the bribe’ RA offered him to take the post down. 

She said it was ‘dumb’ for GoFundMe to shut down Folau’s fundraiser, as now thousands more would be donated.

‘The lefties and rainbow warriors are seeing the consequences of irritating the moderate to conservative and Christian people who chose to donate to Izzy in his attempt to form a legal precedent that protects all of our freedom, being of speech, religion and expression,’ she wrote on her Facebook on Tuesday.

Alistair Laval, 29, from the Gold Coast – $120

Alistair Laval, 29, (pictured with his wife and child) said people of his faith should be able to share the gospel in their private lives without fear of being sacked

Alistair Laval, 29, (pictured with his wife and child) said people of his faith should be able to share the gospel in their private lives without fear of being sacked

Mr Laval said he didn’t even know who Folau was until the furore over his Instagram post erupted in April, but immediately wanted to support him.

He tripled his donation to $120 after the GoFundMe page was shut down as he was concerned it would derail the fundraising effort.

The devout Christian from the Gold Coast said people of his faith should be able to share the gospel in their private lives without fear of being sacked. 

‘Israel Folau is being fired for sharing the gospel so that makes it an act against Christians,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.  

‘It’s not about him being able to afford it, it’s about the Australian Christian community stepping in and not allowing one individual to suffer for a belief we all share.’

Mr Laval said all Folau did with his post was to use his prominent position as an admired sporting star share the gospel.

‘[His post] is the gospel, it’s biblical. I’d say he’s the international face of christian persecution at the moment,’ he said.

Mr Laval said all Folau did with his post was to use his prominent position as an admired sporting star share the gospel

Mr Laval said all Folau did with his post was to use his prominent position as an admired sporting star share the gospel

The admin worker claimed GoFundMe was playing favourites and only permitting fundraisers it agreed with politically. 

‘It becomes a problem when GoFundMe is inconsistent. It has an allegiance with the LGBTQI community,’ he said.

Mr Laval said he was confident Folau would reach his goal and that the money would be honestly used to fund his court challenge. 

‘I would assume Israel Folau will achieve his result of $3 million and I would assume he would use the money for what he’s going to use it for,’ he said.

‘All we can do as an Australian Christian community is get behind Israel Folau. 

‘It’s about no one being persecuted for sharing the gospel. It’s definitely not about rugby for me or who he is, it’s about the gospel.’ 

Many of the donations are coming from Australians who believe what Folau is doing is standing up for free speech

Many of the donations are coming from Australians who believe what Folau is doing is standing up for free speech

Many of the donations are coming from Australians who believe what Folau is doing is standing up for free speech.

Another man, 46, who holds a senior executive job in Sydney, donated $100 to the GoFundMe and now $250 to his new campaign – and said he’s neither Christian nor even a rugby supporter.

‘At the end of the day, we have to believe Folau is going to make a stand for what many of us feel – that the right to free speech in this country is being eroded,’ he said.

‘The stand had to happen – many mates my age look around and don’t like the carefree, relaxed Australia my know and love going down the toilet. 

‘I can’t come out publicly because there would be fall-out for myself and my family – but I can help out a little bit financially.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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