Treasurer Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind controversial Wallabies full-back Israel Folau who said gay people will go to hell.
Folau, a devout Christian, was widely condemned for claiming on Instagram this month that gay people were destined for hell unless they ‘repent their sins and turn to God’.
But the star has been backed by several high-profile Christians after it was on Tuesday announced he would not be sanctioned by Rugby Australia.
Mr Morrison is the latest to support him, saying: ‘He’s a good man. Good on him for standing up for his faith.’
Treasurer Scott Morrison (pictured) has thrown his support behind controversial full-back Israel Folau who said gay people will go to hell
Folau (pictured) was widely condemned for claiming on Instagram in April that gay people were destined for hell unless they ‘repent their sins and turn to God’
He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Freedom of religion is one of our fundamental liberties.
‘That doesn’t mean we all have to agree with each other — and you can’t expect everyone within a religion to agree on every subject with everyone in that same religion — but gee, it would be a pretty sick society without faith.’
Mr Morrison said Folau did not mean to hurt anyone and showed a strength of character.
It comes after 1991 world cup winner Farr-Jones backed Folau. The 55-year-old former scrum-half said on Tuesday: ‘As a Christian I understand where he is coming from.’
Parramatta Eels chaplain George Dansey similarly said it was ‘commendable’ the star was ‘standing up for his beliefs’.
Most social media users, however, were quick to criticise Folau’s ‘backward’ beliefs.
Even other rugby players piled in as super ruby star Brad Weber tweeted: ‘Kinda sick of us players staying quiet on some of this stuff. I can’t stand that I have to play this game that I love with people, like Folau, who say what he’s saying.
Former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones (pictured in 2007) has thrown his support behind full-back Israel Folau over his controversial stance on homosexuality
Super ruby star Brad Weber tweeted: ‘Kinda sick of us players staying quiet on some of this stuff. I can’t stand that I have to play this game that I love with people, like Folau, who say what he’s saying.’
Chiefs star Brad Webber tweeted that he thought Folau should have been banned from the field
‘My cousin and her partner, and my Aunty and her partner are some of the most kind, caring & loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. To think that I play against someone that says they’ll go to Hell for being gay disgusts me.’
In deciding not to punish Folau, RA boss Raelene Castle said she was satisfied by a column in which the Wallabies star reiterated his religious convictions.
‘In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel’s position,’ Castle said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Australian Wallabies full-back and devout Christian revealed on Players Voice on Monday night he never intended to hurt anyone with his social media comment, but said he could never shy away from who he is.
Israel Folau, Australian Wallabies full-back and devout Christian, will not be sanctioned by Rugby Australia for his controversial stance on homosexuality (pictured with wife Maria Folau)
RA boss Raelene Castle said on Tuesday that he accept’s Folau’s position (pictured during the round two Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Stormers at Allianz Stadium on February 24)
In his post, Folau went into extraordinary detail regarding ‘the meeting’ with Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and NSW Waratahs general manager Andrew Hore.
‘During the meeting, I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe, he said.
‘I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.
Folau (pictured on his wedding day) revealed on Players Voice on Monday night he never intended to hurt anyone with his Instagram comment, but he could never shy away from who he is
He revealed he was ‘really disappointed’ with some of the things that were said in a press conference after the meeting, accusing Castle of misrepresenting his position.
‘I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments, and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia,’ he said.
‘That aside, I hope Raelene and Andrew appreciate my position, even if it differs with theirs.’
The rugby player (pictured with wife Maria) said his faith was more important than his career and always would be
He said Raelene and Andrew ‘run things in a way that appeals broadly to their executive, fans and sponsors, as well as its players and staff’.
He said for him it was ‘not about money or bargaining power or contracts’, but proclaimed his faith was more important than his career.
‘It’s about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be.’
Folau revealed he reads the Bible ‘every day’ and said it gave him direction and answered his questions.
‘No man or woman is different from another – if you sin, which we all do, and do not repent and seek forgiveness, then you will not inherit the Kingdom of God,’ he said.