England rugby star Billy Vunipola has been heavily criticized for supporting homophobic comments made by a fellow rugby union player.
Vunipola stood by Australian international Israel Folau after the latter posted a religious-themed social media post condeming homosexuals.
Folau posted a screen-cap of a homophobic poster which warned that ‘hell awaits … homosexuals’ on his Instagram account on Wednesday (10 April).
The 30-year-old has met with widespread condemnation by LGBTI rights supporters, and dropped by rugby union governing body, Rugby Australia.
After ‘liking’ Folau’s post, Vunipola took to his own Instagram account to explain that Folau was: ‘saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be.’
He has since been dropped by Channel 4 from commentating on European rugby coverage.
‘What he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people’
The deeply religious Folau took to social media to spout that ‘hell awaits … homosexuals,’ adding they should ‘repent’ as ‘only Jesus saves lives.’
‘Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters.’
On April 11, Rugby Australia said it planned to terminate Folau’s contract over his online remarks. Folau has since said he will fight the decision.
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Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on
‘I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post’
Following the fallout of Folau’s comments, 26-year-old Vunipola posted the update on Saturday (13 April).
‘So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post,’ Vunipola wrote.
‘This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people,’ his post continued.
‘He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?’
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So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
A post shared by Billy Vunipola (@vunipola_billy) on
Following his Instagram post, Channel 4 announced that it would be dropping Vunipola from its coverage of European rugby.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: ‘These views are incompatible with our values as an inclusive broadcaster. In light of this Billy Vunipola will not be used as a contributor in Channel 4’s coverage.’
Vunipola will also meet with the Rugby Football Union to discuss his social media post.
Not a first
This is not the first time the 30-year-old Folau has provoked controversy for promoting controversial religious views on social media.
Also on 10 April this year, Folau also tweeted a photo of a news story about Tasmania passing historic new gender laws whereby recording gender markers on birth certificates will be optional.
The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free. pic.twitter.com/BWSWTMye98
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) 10 April 2019
In an Instagram post from April 2018, Folau wrote that God’s plan for gay people is: ‘HELL. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.’
Despite facing widespread criticism, he refused to back down, saying he was simply following his sincerely held Christian beliefs.
Then in May, Folau posted an 11-minute video on Twitter, which includes a sermon where evangelical preacher David Wilkerson claims we are living in a time of ‘sexual perversions beyond description’.
In response, the rugby star wrote: ‘The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free.’
Though raised a Mormon, Folau has been an active member of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship since 2011, a global coalition of churches with around 70 million members.