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The Folau Farce Strikes Again

The increasingly ridiculous situation around Israel Folau is once again in the news. A little context first, and then a systematic deconstruction of this nonsense. I try to be impartial, but there is something about this situation that makes me want to sharpen the axe.

Background: Folau’s Social Media Screwup

In April, Israel Folau posted a photo to instagram which said, among other choice things, that homosexuals were going to hell. Such a post represented a breach of his contract with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) which, like many other contracts, includes a ‘don’t be a dickhead’ clause. He had made such posts in the past, and the ARU warned him. He chose to do so again, knowing that the previous example of such conduct was a breach of his contract. The ARU punished him and he now has the nerve to play the victim. Contract law does not care why you breached your contract, merely that you did so. Claiming the right to breach your contract because religion is to seek religious privilege. He then planned to sue the ARU for unfair dismissal on religious grounds. I have dealt with this ‘religious freedom’ issue in another piece on this site.

From GoFundMe to Guardian Angels

Despite being a multi millionaire, Folau set up a GoFundMe campaign for his suit against the ARU. Suspicion surrounded the campaign from the start, and the company ultimately suspended it. This naturally fanned the fires of persecution common among conservative christians once they realise they must tolerate the existence of people who are not like them. Enter stage far-right the Australian Christian Lobby. As masters of the persecution gambit, who better to serve as Folau’s guardian angels than these clowns?

This group of christian fundamentalists created a pledge on their website to fund Folau’s campaign. It raised – wait for it – more than $2mil from approximately 20,000 donors. Quite the average. Folau himself, backed by the torn ACL, frames the issue of his termination as taking place as punishment ‘for my religious beliefs’. No – you are not being punished for your beliefs. You are free to believe as you wish. What you are not entitled to do is tell people who are different from you that they will burn in eternal fire! Religious freedom (whatever that means) does not extend to ordering people to repent because they are not like you!

Muh Freeze Peach!

Inevitably, the right has attempted to turn this into a free speech issue. As an example, consider this screed in the Canberra Times. After saying that the issue when silencing speech (which no-one ever discussed – there is a difference between consequences for speech and silencing it) was whether it does harm, the author went on to say

But if you are to be inclusive, doesn’t that include fundamentalist Christians as well? What if a Muslim player had tweeted [the same thing]? These rantings [Folau’s] do not cause harm. To the contrary Folau – however misguided – had the interests of homosexuals and atheists and others at heart. In his Christian world, he was trying to help them avoid the horrors of the eternal hellfire.

In order, no – inclusivity does not extend to tolerating the hateful and intolerant. Second, your ‘whataboutism’ is not an argument. Indeed, it is fair to say that if a muslim player posted the same thing the ARU would have terminated his contract as well. Same standard – hurts, I know. Third, and by far most egregious, is the absurd notion that Folau had the interests of the condemned at heart in his rant! Is this author seriously trying to argue that Folau’s post was designed to help the people he condemned?

Setting aside the ridiculous idea of eternal punishment for a finite crime, are we seriously to believe that telling a kid that his father will belt him if he misbehaves so he better not do it, the result being that his father does not belt him, is an act of love? How about the father just, oh I do not know, does not belt the kid? Seriously! The god of the bible is an abusive parent on a cosmic scale.

Conclusion: The Victim Narrative

Throughout this entire saga, there has been a consistent streat of crap about how Folau as an individual, and the religious (read christians) in this country generally, are victims. Not being allowed to discriminate against people is not discrimination against you! I do not care what your religious text says. Society has moved on. We no longer treat women as property, it is no longer legal to rape your wife, we no longer keep slaves. You are not victims because you have to accept the fact that society has evolved beyond the year 987AD.

The victim narrative really is all that political, conservative christianity has left after it lost its ability to, you know, kill people who disagree with them. The loss of state power to enforce rules you by and large made up renders you powerless, and you hate that. You and your ilk were in control for centuries, existing as a fifth column anointing kings, controlling massive tracts of land and paying no tax as you told people how to live and tolerated no dissent. However, as science and knowledge advanced, people began to see how utterly arbitrary and made up many of your ‘rules’ were and they resented that. The rise of informed, articulate and ultimately correct critics of your worldview (the Four Horsemen of Atheism) rattled you. You were not in control anymore. You could no longer claim to be superior because muh religion.

Now society expects you to follow the law as well? No exceptions for religious people because muh religion? Believers subject to the same standards as the rest of us? Oh how utterly persecuted you are.

Clear off.

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  1. Bob Parker

    Just Izzy trying to god-bother his gay nature away in my view. He can win his court case or lose it, his nature won’t change.

  2. Brad Golding

    You do have to wonder exactly to which God (?) Folau has been brainwashed into worshipping.
    The one I eventually discovered through the Christian tradition, having weeded out all the crap, is an unknowable force or presence, that we call God, that permeates the universe, a God that is unconditionally forgiving and loving, which is exactly what Jesus taught. Folau, however, seems to be devoted to the God of the Old Testament who is portrayed as a nasty, vicious, and unforgiving micromanaging deity concerned only with who is shagging whom and with bedroom habits and naughty bits in general, just as so many churches are. Funny that.
    If Folau has actually read the New Testament he should have noticed that the Creator gave us a brain to think and learn with but, sadly, he appears to have totally missed the point of the message that Jesus taught, in particular, the verse, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
    And in parting, do you know why K9’s are called Dogs? The word appeared in English a few hundred years ago out of nowhere because someone realised that dogs are the only creatures that will give you total and unconditional love, and are thus, a reflection of the unconditional love of God. “doG-God,” do you get it? I don’t think it works in any other language but I’m not sure.
    Here endeth today’s lesson!

  3. Kerri

    As Peter Fitzsimons pointed out.
    You are free to state your opinion. But you are not free of consequences.

  4. Henry Rodrigues

    This guy is just a proxy for the fundamentalists of all persuasions. I know of one Coalition supporter who defends him ferociously. I wondered why and then he went on to explain it was because of freedom of speech, which these days is a pseudonym for religious bigotry. I suspect that somewhere in the mix, are political operatives pulling this idiot’s strings. Mind you, not long ago he was running around in a grass skirt hunting wild pigs.

  5. Win Jeavons

    Brad Golding I entirely agree. As a regular church goer with strong views that follow much reading I detest the miserable judgementalism thar seems to be heavily reliant on ignorance of biology, and more wedded to ancient Jewish rules than to Jesus’ own teachings. Not only does the condemnation of homosexuality appear to be based on a bad translation ( apparently the reference is rather to pedophilia) , but it is accompanied by many other rules that most Jews now ignore as dated. In addition these bigote ignore the very good requirement that good people care for the poor the widows and the STRANGERS IN THE LAND – refugees!

  6. New England Cocky

    Roy Masters, Bit asset rich for Folau to cry poor, SMH 250619, p1,8. (Abstracted).

    Folau appears to have on-going self-interest as the motive for his football career across three codes, NRL, AFL and Rugby.

    He started at the Melbourne Storm on $35,000 per season that has risen to $1 MILLION and he has accumulated a property portfolio worth more than $7 MILLION, all before the age of 30.

    Folau and his father own nine (9) properties, but in fairness the Polynesian cultural obligation for successful athletes to provide accommodation for family must be recognised.

    Folau joined Melbourne Storm on a $35,000 per season contract in 2007 then was offered $350,000 following a sensational season. Yet by March 2009 he joined the Brisbane Broncos on a deal reported to be between $400,000 and $500,000 per year. He was allegedly ‘homesick’.

    In October 2008 Folau purchased a $350,000 Boronia Heights Brisbane property for his family.

    In 2010 he rejected a two year option with the Broncos to consider a $3 MILLION contract with Melbourne Rebels (ARU) before signing with the AFL expansion club Greater Western Sydney for $1 MILLION per season, although the Broncos claimed that the deal was $6 MILLION over four years.

    In 2010 Folau Investments purchased a four bedroom house in Kellyville (NW Sydney near Windsor) for $773,000.

    At the end of the 2011 AFL season Folau had an epiphany moment and departed the Mormon Church to join the Assembly of God at a church where his father was pastor. His AFL career had produced two (2) goals.

    In December 2012 Folau departed the AFL to join the NSW Waratahs for the 2013 season and agreed to play Rugby for the Red Hurricanes in Japan for $700,000 a year, which was frustrated by an ankle injury and the Hurricanes relegation.

    In March 2015 Folau purchased an investment property at Stanhope Gardens in the Hills District (adjacent NW Sydney) for $1,050,000.

    In June 2015 Folau purchased a Kenthurst property (adjacent NW Sydney) as his principal residence for $2.1 MILLION.

    In December 2016 Folau paid $1.12 MILLION for a total of three (3) blocks of land at Austral (SW Sydney).

    In December 2016 Folau purchased a one (bedroom?) unit apartment at Little Bay (Maroubra) for $960,000.

    Over his career, Folau has received multiple sponsorships but his recent homophobic outburst cost him the remaining Land Rover and Asics deals plus the Salteri family Australian Sports Foundation financial support to the ARU.

    So, with three (3) years left on a contract frozen at $1 MILLION a season, his income was flat-lining, unless he could secure a significant payout and a lucrative overseas contract.

    The cyber-begging site he established had raised enough to meet his legal bills when it was closed down but a condition of the campaign was donors having no right to question how the money was acquitted.

    What are the odds any surplus would have been used to buy another property?

    @Bob Parker: Your comment is a little out of left field but would explain why homophobic comments were made as part of the self-deprecation that too many “Christians” practice every day. perhaps this is confirmed by his sponsorship of an openly gay recent Rugby tournament won by the Sydney Convicts.

    AS a matter of interest; has anybody checked to determine whether the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is a branch office of the US CIA?

  7. Keitha Granville

    I am placing my faith in the justice system. If he succeeds in mediation and gives in when they say sorry we upset you but you’re still sacked, we won’t know. But I hope it goes to court. I want him to lose. I want him to try to understand that religion is NOTHING to do with this. He broke a rule, he has to pay for it. Simple as that. And the rest of the country needs to see that it is as simple as that. You can’t breach a contract and not suffer consequences.
    (Unless you are the government, or a large bank of course)

  8. Grumpy Geezer

    Enjoyed this. Nicely worded logic.

  9. Terence Mills

    Not unsurprisingly the conciliation before the Fair Work Commission has failed before it even got off the ground so it seems that it’s going to the Federal Court.

    This case is not about freedom of speech or religious freedoms. This is about the right of an employer to dismiss an employee for not adhering to the terms of the contract of employment after having received a prior warning. Specifically the players’ code, rules 1.3 and 1.6 and any other contractual agreement will be tested :

    1.3 Treat everyone equally, fairly and with dignity regardless of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural or religious background, age or disability. Any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination has no place in Rugby.

    1.6 Do not make any public comment that is critical of the performance of a match official, player, team official, coach or employee/officer/volunteer of any club or a Union; or on any matter that is, or is likely to be, the subject of an investigation or disciplinary process; or otherwise make any public comment that would likely be detrimental to the best interests, image and welfare of the Game, a team, a club, a competition or Union.

    This is an important case, not for what it may say about religious freedom or freedom of speech, but for what it will say about the respective rights of an employer and an employee relative to an employment contract

  10. Bob Parker

    @New England Cocky Maybe Izzie’s need to prove his heterosexuality came about from getting some stick from his teammates about his sponsorship of the openly gay Rugby tournament. Whatever doubts anyone may have about his attributes, his greed is there front and center. Everyone else has to put money up for his lawsuit so none of his is at risk.

    As for the CIA involvement in the ACL? My understanding is that Hillsong/Pentecostal religion is the main funder of the ACL. There is not the slightest doubt that this brain rotting sect has been funded initially by America’s colonial interests, whether any of the cash arrived via the CIA doesn’t matter too much. Now established, it is funded by the mental defectives who turn up to their propaganda sessions, including our idiot PM.

  11. Josephus

    Bob Parker your notion that the Jewish God is cruel and vindictive whereas that of Jesus is not, is a tad simplistic given that Jesus lived and died a practising Jew who may or may not have belonged to a mystical Jewish sect, namely the Essenes. Nor did Jesus want to replace Judaism, Win Jeavons. Reform aspects of it yes, as did other Jews of his time.

    Falau is a bore! Why anyone would bother about his views is part of the mindless celeb cult that says that those who are rich and stupid merit Press space. Kardashians or Falau, same nonsense,
    Tell you what, I believe that thong wearers are doomed to hell. I read it in some sacred book. I am rich, and my sport mesmerises millions for some reason, so my beliefs get attention. Yawn. Let us forget the guy- those who funded that multi millionaire are duped and dumb. Re- yawn.
    Let’s think about the refugees tortured off shore instead, yes? Or the First Peoples, whose stolen land was covered first with little brick houses, and now with crumbling tower blocks.

  12. Stephengb

    I will put this here

    I think I have said this before many have misunderstood my reasoning.

    I want Izzy to win. Why

    Because it sets a precedence
    1. for telling employers that they cannot control our lives outside of work.
    2. To show that free speech has consequences.
    3. Because he will use it to deamonise others and probably break the law, and jopefully get punished in accord with that law.
    4. which in will set another precedence that says free speech does NOT entitle people to discriminate.

  13. Bob Parker

    @Josephus You penned “Bob Parker your notion that the Jewish God is cruel and vindictive whereas that of Jesus is not,…” Sorry, I wrote nothing about your middle eastern god at all.

    I am not an absolute atheist but I have no belief in the middle eastern lunatic, whether named as Yahwey, Jehova, or Allah. Nor do I believe in the Norse gods though I am grateful that I have never been attacked by any ice giants.

    I agree that Falau is a bore, but we have truckloads more of that boredom to come.

    I do think of the refugees actually, a futile effort maybe, given the present fascist government in Canberra.

  14. Aortic

    I never thought I would say this but I am almost looking forward to Question Time in Parliament resuming and hopefully getting all the hype surrounding this boring delusional God botherer off the front page. We must truly be the luckiest country in the world when this crap has been hogging the headlines forever and the truly potentially lethal problems affecting us all such a climate change is not even treated seriously by this incompetent bunch of coal fired fools we call a government. Still Donald may pay us a visit sometime so we can rest easier I suppose.

  15. MöbiusEcko

    So gays will go to hell because of the word of god, but those who cut flesh and get tattoos won’t, but that is also against the word of god according to the bible.

  16. mark delmege

    Folau in my book has the right to say what he wants. And what he did say was not particularly enlightening or hateful. I disagree with most of it but then I disagree with a lot of people and they with me. If he and his tweet was just ignored the world would be a better place.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Israel’s religious freedom has not been threatened. Nor has his freedom of speech.

    When he first chose to express his opinion about homosexuality, his employer met with him, explained his obligations regarding their code of conduct, and he agreed that he would walk away from rugby if RA were concerned.

    “After we’d all talked, I told Raelene [Castle] 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 wrote on PlayersVoice. “I do not want to bring hurt to the game and want as many people playing it as possible, so when I spoke to Raelene about walking away, it was to help the game, not harm it, in the event we couldn’t come to an understanding.”

    As many have pointed out, Israel is free to say what he wants. He just has to then be man enough to bear the consequences.

  18. mark delmege

    political correctness? Identity politics? I’d argue it should never have been an issue.

  19. Matters Not

    In days of yore, Israel, as a devout Mormon, believed there were three Gods – (Father, Son and Holy Ghost are seen by Mormons as three separate gods).

    Now he’s down to two – with Mammon to the fore.

    He has an excellent financial future as a preacher of the prosperity gospel with a proven track record.

  20. Kaye Lee

    Those terms are really starting to piss me off. We have people whinging that they can’t say what they want because of “political correctness” and then the same people whinging about “identity politics” when minorities seek to also have a voice.

  21. Oscar Wilde

    I watched him on Sky last night. Even Alan Jones seems to be out there rooting for him.Which is bizarre seeing that Alan is gay.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Remember when Yassmin Abdel-Magied tweeted “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” which she quickly removed and apologised for when people were offended – her upcoming tv program was cancelled and she had to flee the country, the attacks were so bad.

    Leading the charge, Nationals’ MP and devout Christian George Christensen responded to the comments with: “Yasmin [sic] should no longer be on the public broadcaster’s tax-funded payroll.” This sentiment was echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who said the ABC “can’t just sweep it under the carpet,” while on Sky News’ The Bolt Report former ALP powerbroker Graham Richardson declared “the ABC must do something about this.” A similarly outraged Pauline Hanson said Australians would “Never forgive” and “Never forget” Abdel-Magied’s comments, before complaining that the ABC was too scared to sack her.

    But hey – aside from being a Muslim, Yassmin is a vocal woman. And the bible won’t tolerate that.

  23. mark delmege

    Kaye, I hope you supported her right to say what she did.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Yes I did mark. Not only with her right to say it but the sentiment expressed, which perhaps makes me less objective.

    But she didn’t vilify anyone. She didn’t contravene her employer’s charter or code of conduct. She responded quickly and appropriately when she realised she had caused offence to some.

    And the people who hounded her out of the country are the same people who are donating to Israel’s legal costs.

  25. Zathras

    I wonder if there would have been the same public outrage about religious persecution and freedom of speech if Folau was Jewish or Muslim or even if he specifically added Jews and Muslims to his hell-bound list (as they would be)?

    Maybe someone should ask him how he feels about the freedom and rights for women who choose to wear burqas?

    Considering the loudest complainers from the right-wing media commentariate the old saying about fascism coming to a country “wrapped in a flag and holding a Bible” seems more and more likely.

  26. Oscar

    Religion; what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Folau is just another ignorant waste.

  27. johno

    Lying was one of the sins in Folau’s tweet. The queue to get into hell will be a long one.

  28. corvus boreus

    There is definitely an element of ‘identity politics’ in the whole tawdry saga around Folau and the ARU.
    Namely, a bunch of people, identifying as part of ‘brand Christ’, are raising national hue and cry and shaking the ‘charity’ can to amass shekels for lawyers, all in an effort to overturn the contractual dismissal of a wealthy athlete for repeated and wilful breaches of specific employment conditions (and help make Folau 10 million dollars richer) .
    I am constantly amazed at how ignorant people can get themselves so worked up about entirely trivial shit.

  29. Josephus

    Kaye a good point about Yassmin. She insulted no one, but she spoke truth to power. If she was wrong the answer should be to let journalists freely visit the paradises she lists.

    Bob my ‘Middle Eastern God’ you say? Your scorn is wasted, since as an educated, life long atheist I simply note the prejudices and caricatures exploited by, and sometimes created by, tyrants or their minions. These kill to preserve their monopoly on myths used to control the masses. These myths are usually religious, though in modern times atheists have instead used the cult of Me the god or/and, as someone has said here, the cult of Mammon, to the same effect.

    Electronic surveillance is clearly reducing the need for religions to maintain acquiescence. So, eradicate one tyranny and another takes its place…

    Monotheism predates the Old Testament by the way, if that is your beef (the brief Sun God cult of a Pharaoh.) So all one- god cults came from the Middle East or North Africa, but so what?

    The footballer does not give his obscene wealth to charity, it seems. Or to the homeless. The ‘ eye of the needle’ and all that. If he reads the New Testament he will find that getting into Heaven is a bit hard for the rich. He may have to sell a few houses after the crowd funding runs out, but he will still not be poor enough to pass the needle test.

    People get worked up over trivia Corvus because the powerful and rich control the mainstream media, whose job it is to feed the public with mental booze, bread and circuses.

  30. New England Cocky

    @KL1147 hours: I am a fan of Yassmin.

    I think there is an adage, “People in grass houses should not stow thrones”. Now look at the cast of characters thrown together in this Folau imbroglio.

    George “The Gut” Christensen, the sometime Member for the Philippines and frequent flyer between Canberra and Manilla supporting long time ‘disadvantaged’ Filipino families.

    Barnyard Joke, Adulterer-in-Chief for the national$ you have when you want to sell an empty glass of water for $80 million, whose reported behaviour qualifies for 5/8 of Folau’s damnation characteristics.

    Graham Richardson of Love Boat fame … or notoriety.

    Poorlean the public face of the James Ashby Only Nutters Party, who has been responsible for recruiting some of the biggest ill-informed nutters in this present Parliament.

    @Josephus: Good points, so is Folau correctly identified as a Sunday only Christian bowing to Mammon Monday to Saturday?

    @Bob Parker: Thank you for your contribution.

  31. Ivo dolzan

    Should folau win in the high court does that mean I can tell the boss he can go to hell without fear of any ramifications

  32. carolyn smart

    Falau signed a contract, which presumably he had read and understood, only to break his word.
    One would think that a contract is legally binding. Does the outcome of this imbroglio mean that Falau’s word is not to be trusted in any sphere? He can sign anything but it means nothing.
    Questions remain – why did he agree to its terms in the first place? Considering his great wealth one would imagine he would have his own lawyers (and religious mentors) as advisers. The whole thing, at its outset, has more than a whiff of interference from organisations of great power. Falau is being used.

  33. Zathras

    Despite the ongoing debate and assumptions we do not have the right to freedom of speech in this country, nor do we have “the right to remain silent” and all that other US TV stuff that’s permeated our culture. We have no Bill of Rights and all the rights we have are Constitutional and legal under our inherited British legal system and freedom of speech does not exist.

    You can say something generally about a group of people but there may be social consequences and saying something directly about an individual could end up as a matter decided by a court of law.

    Folau was a repeat offender. He was warned after the first tweet but then knowingly and deliberately repeated the offence.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Ya gotta laugh at the spin being put on this by Israel and his followers – that he was coming from a place of love.


    You are degenerate. You are evil. There is something wrong with you. Get down on your knees and pray for forgiveness or you will burn in Hell forever.

    Love you too Issie.

  35. Stephen

    As the author of this piece alluded to Folau along with many of these right wing Christian types seem to not want equal rights but extra rights!

  36. Anarchy Rules

    Ironic that the people who say that folau should not have been sacked are the same ones who wanted the unfair dismissal rule repealed

  37. Matters Not

    Watched Sales on 7.30 Report and had to admire the ease (and arrogance) with which Morrison hit her questions over the fence for the metaphorical six. Followed by Tingle (and Savva) who signal a troubling time for intellectual liberals in the immediate future. Perhaps ‘happy clapping’ as a substitute for Phys Ed will be part of a new curriculum because Morrison seems like watershed in Australian political life.

    Trump in the US, Morrison in Australia, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in the UK, Putin in Russia … all a worry. Perhaps Elizabeth Warren might be a light at the end of tunnel? Because I don’t think Albo will be.

  38. Terence Mills


    Morrison did however make an interesting observation relative to the Folau case.

    Mr Morrison said generally employers needed to have “reasonable” expectations of their employees.

    He said there was a balance to be struck, but employers should not “impinge on areas of private practice and private belief“.

    If that is really what he believes then, employers (including religious employers) should not be able to discriminate against employees or potential employees based on their private practice and private belief which at the moment they can.

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