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Israel Folau: Gay people shouldn’t take my Bible comments ‘personally’

Israel Folau: Gay people shouldn’t take my Bible comments ‘personally’

Israel Folau ask his supporters for cash donations in a YouTube video

Australian rugby star Israel Folau has spoken publicly for the first time about his legal dispute with Rugby Australia. He appeared yesterday on the Alan Jones’ 2GB breakfast radio show.

The interview comes two days after Folau launched a GoFundMe. He’s asking fans and supporters to help pay his legal fees.

Folau is locked in a legal battle with Rugby Australia after the governing body sacked him.

It dropped the rugby star last month for breach of contract. Folau, 30, a devout Christian, posted an image to social media in April that said ‘hell awaits homosexuals’. He refused to apologize for the statement, saying he was merely voicing his Christian beliefs.

In the ensuing controversy, Folau lost sponsorship deals. He was also dropped by his Super Rugby team, New South Wales Waratahs, and governing body, Rugby Australia. He had a lucrative four-year contract with the latter worth Aus$1.0 million (US$700,000) annually.

‘Word of God’

Talking to Alan Jones, who has been vocal in his support of the player, Folau talked about his faith.

‘What I believe, based on the Bible, is the most important thing to me, and it defines me as a person, and my identity is found in what’s written in what I call the word of God. And everything I do and everything I live by is based on the principles of what is written in that book.’

‘Repent’

Jones asks Folau what he would say to people, including ‘homosexuals’, who argue that Folau’s comments add to their feelings of being made to feel ‘unworthy.’

‘For me on a personal note, when I say things that come from the Bible, it comes from a place of love, and wanting people to understand that, yeah, I’m not speaking of them personally.

‘There’s things that the Bible speaks of that might go against things that people are doing, but from my perspective, I’m about sharing that from a place of love, and believing in the Bible people have the opportunity to hear that, and they do repent if they choose to, and turn away from that, and to be in heaven one day, which is what I long for people to choose to do.’

Folau said it had been ‘quite a shock’ to hear former teammates criticize him for his stance. However, ‘I don’t take any of those things personal.’

‘It’s been a tough few months for myself and my wife Maria and also my family.

Folau is seeking an estimated Aus$10 million in compensation. The sum could bankrupt Rugby Australia if it loses the cases.

Folau says his termination was due to his religion, contravening section 772 of Australia’s Fair Work Act. Rugby Australia disagrees with this and says he simply breached his contract agreements.

Doesn’t want the money for himself

Jones asked Folau what he would say to those who think he just wants to ask supporters for money for himself.

‘My principle and my faith is driving me from the get-go. My faith is what defines me as a person.

He says he is ‘standing up for the will of God.’

On his GoFundMe, Folau says he and his wife, ‘have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and 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 says, ‘My faith is the most important thing in my life. I try to live my life according to the Bible and I believe it is my duty to share the word of the Bible.

‘Earlier this year, I uploaded some messages from the Bible on my Instagram page.

‘I believe that sharing the Bible is an act of love and compassion.’

Folau is seeking to raise AUS£3million (US$2,076,000/€1,836,000). Since launching Tuesday, hundreds of supporters have donated a total of AUS$346,852 (US$240,000/€212,000)

See also

Israel Folau launches legal action after being dropped for homophobia

Israel Folau lashes out at support for trans children in church sermon