Hear it or read it, the message from Israel Folau fans is clear

26 April 2019

5.8 MINS

By Alan Jones for The Australian.

It has been clear for months now that Rugby Australia do not listen. After all, they might have heeded some of the grassroots advice they have received.

But it is now clear, in relation to the Israel Folau affair, that they can’t read either.

The issue around Folau is really quite simple. You either believe in God or you don’t. You are either a Christian or you are not.

I have no problem with which route is chosen by an individual; but if you do not believe in the heaven and hell thing, then there is no hell; so how could you be offended by what Folau posted from the Bible?

But if you are a Christian, or claim to be a Christian and you do believe in heaven and hell, and the word of Jesus Christ, then you should be living according to God’s word.

Or are some people pretending to be Christians and picking and choosing which doctrines they will adhere to?

If you are a Christian, what Folau posted is truth. You might think it is out of date or not relevant or not contemporary, but a committed Christian believes in that so could not in any way be offended.

And if you are not a Christian, then there is no such thing as hell. So what is the kerfuffle?

Thank goodness for social media.

As I have said, it is clear Rugby Australia either can’t read or do not care about their constituency, or both. Or are they comforted by the fact that everyone on the payroll has toed the party line.

How extraordinary that not one single person on the payroll of Rugby Australia has dared to step out of line and say simply that this Folau issue is a heap of crock.

I was asked to write two pieces for The Australian last week. It is a matter of public record that they were viewed by more than 2.3 million people on my Facebook page. There were more than 10,000 individual comments.

On The Australian’s website, where you can only comment if you are a subscriber, there were 1900 further individual comments.

The overwhelming majority of these comments support Folau and his right to basic freedoms.

Rugby Australia argue that one of their values is “inclusiveness”, but they don’t want to “include” Folau; more importantly, they obviously don’t want to “include” the supporters of the game.

There is a golden rule in life. When you are digging a hole for yourself and getting deeper and deeper into trouble, it is a good idea to stop digging.

Yet here are Rugby Australia, on the wrong side of their constituency on almost every other issue, now isolating thousands of fans by prosecuting Folau for expressing his religious beliefs. The public comments are telling:

Carolyn: “Thank you Alan for such a well-written article. May God richly bless you for standing up and supporting this young man and the right of all Christians to share our faith.”

That is a touch indulgent, but Carolyn is surely entitled to her view.

Or, when Rugby talks “diversity”, does it really mean “uniformity”?

Fred: “If they drop Folau, I’ll drop rugby. No support, no going to games, no watching it on TV.”

Susan: “This is discrimination and humiliation of an individual on the basis of his religious beliefs. The only victim here is Israel Folau.”

Adam: “I spend $1500 a year on tickets to watch the Wallabies. This year I won’t be spending a cent. Leave Israel alone Rugby Australia.”

Cassie: “Why was Alan Joyce allowed to use his platform as Qantas CEO to push his agenda and Folau not?”

Maria: “Goodbye rugby union. I have been a fan of the Wallabies since I was young. You have lost me forever.”

Andrew: “I’m out. I’m done with rugby. I’ll never watch it again.”

John: “The RA Board needs to go and so does the CEO of Qantas.”

Corey: “Political correctness has infected all media and sports codes. Rugby Australia are scared to offend a 2 per cent minority.”

George: “The Folau incident is forcing us to ponder … are we still a Christian country?”

Gerrard: “It is amazing how politicians are praised for respecting our Christian traditions by not campaigning at Easter but Israel Folau loses his job for upholding the same traditions. Perhaps we need rugby sponsors who believe and uphold our western Judaeo-Christian values.”

At least Kent put a smile on our faces when he wrote: “My experience of hell is watching the Wallabies play.”

There are simple fundamental questions at work here. Can a sponsor include any conditions it likes to control the activities of all the employees of the organisation it is sponsoring?

Yet the same sponsor can enter a commercial partnership with countries that openly commit atrocities against gay people.

This has all reached farcical proportions. I see one headline which says: “If Rugby Australia doesn’t successfully expel Folau, World Rugby will have to.”

Are these people on something? This is brewing as a massive and expensive legal issue. There are tens of thousands of people signing petitions in support of a world-class player.

Rugby Australia seem to be driving the process as an employment contract breach. Folau and his supporters see this as an infringement of civil liberties; that citizens of this so-called free country should be entitled to share their religious beliefs.

All Folau has done is quote 2000-year-old scripture.

As Thomas Jefferson said in relation to the US constitutional right to the freedom of speech, expressing one’s own beliefs, is “neither picking my pocket nor breaking my leg”.

The politically correct do-gooders do not have to listen to or agree with Folau.

But if Folau was offering a Christian warning to so-called sinners, and he managed to rope us all in, I was made aware of a more significant warning only this week by someone who read what I had written.

I was reminded that Martin Niemöller, a German theologian, had been a prominent pastor of an influential parish in Berlin-Dahlem from 1931 until his arrest in July 1937.

His incarceration, first in Moabit Prison, then in Sachsenhausen and finally in Dachau in 1945 brought feelings of shame and guilt for some of his positions since 1933.

And it prompted his famous confession:

“First, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

What an incongruity on this matter that some speak out because money speaks; and some are frightened to speak out because money speaks.

If Folau is wrong, then do we burn the Bible?

The German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine once declared:

“Wherever books are burnt, humans are destined to be burnt too.”

Folau now faces a code of conduct panel. His post was on April 10.

The hearing is on May 4. What does that say about justice delayed? And what anyway is the panel about?

Rugby Australia has ignored its own processes and protocols. Before any chance was given for Folau to defend himself, he has been punished, condemned, defamed and humiliated.

After all, NSW played last week. He was not picked. The Australian coach says he won’t be picked for the Wallabies.

The captain of Australia and NSW says he won’t play in the same team as Folau. Will selectors tell that young man that he doesn’t pick the team? Or has the whole show gone completely mad?

Do the professionally offended believe they have won? If Folau is finished, I am sorry but Rugby Australia is finished too.

The administrative changes that I have argued for, for months now, must immediately occur.

But on this issue, there can be only one result; and how the phalanx of people advising Rugby Australia don’t see it is unbelievable. Stop digging the hole. Stop further damaging the game. Stop dragging this mess out any further. Have the decency to practice the “inclusiveness” you boast about.

We need a leader to bring all parties together and start again. Rugby Australia and Qantas cannot win. If they win, Australia loses.

One final point. Please tell the volunteers and the battlers out there in clubland that Qantas should be made to pay for all the costs involved. Without their involvement, we would not be in this space. And if Qantas have not put the gun to the head of Rugby Australia, say so and I am happy to report it.

But back to where we began. Can someone in Rugby Australia read the judgment of the Federal Court in Brisbane 10 days ago in relation to the distinguished James Cook University professor Peter Ridd.

He too was sacked for expressing sincerely held scientific views.

The Federal court found the university’s treatment of this eminent professor was unlawful. Termination became vindication.

I suspect a similar outcome awaits Folau.

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  1. Jean Antill 27 April 2019 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Totally agree with all you have narrated. In answer to one if your comments … no we are NO longer a Christian based country. Politics has seen that fly out the door ever so quickly. As for democratic rights! What is that in this land we call Australia? It no longer exists because the very fragile may feel they are being insulted for their gay lifestyle or whatever it maybe re spiritual worth.

    To the Rugby Union board and its CEO etc you have set an example for our youth in how to discriminate, victimise and invalidate our human beliefs. Not inclusive in any manner! If they do not align with yours ( which are none) then sad that is how it will be! You are excluded! Great ROLE MODELLING BOARD – NOT!

    As for those ex professional players on the board who agree with the boards decision. l am so glad you are no longer playing professionally as we do not need those role models for our youth. We need models that show love and compassion to all regardless of a comment be it secular or spiritual. It is a Christian belief and if you do not agree or dislike it that is fine but we as Christians still as far as l was aware ( until now ) allowed to have our individual beliefs and share them openly and proudly. No body owns one 24×7 and he is allowed his beliefs in his own time. They control on the fields but no where else. That is intimidation!

    So many other beliefs have been forced on us and l for one did not vote yes to the SSM vote! But l do not care what others think! Hate me or dislike me. I do not care! That is my belief and l am not changing it for any Rugby board, Qantas CEO, politician or member of any other spiritual community. So Israel l stand right beside you and am proud to say l am a Christian and yes that posting is exactly as l also believe. We ask all of us who are sinners to repent and that includes all NOT just the gay community as pointed out ever so cowardly.

    Gee can l ask that these people are not seen as VICTIMS. I ask VICTIMS of what? No different to what Israel is going through! So go take your cotton wool blanket off and be a gay man or a gay woman or whatever. Grow strong! For me I care about those who want to repent and get to know Jesus Christ Thank you Alan for your fairness and justice to Israel and all Christians in this article. So appreciated.

  2. Sandra Ivins 27 April 2019 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Bravo! Alan Jones you have been spot on with every article you have written. It’s a slippery slope for Rugby Australia and they will hit the quicksand in May.

  3. Annie Harris 27 April 2019 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    I agree with you Mr Jones 100%!

  4. Jill Johnson 29 April 2019 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    I agree with Alan Jones 100%

  5. Vivienne Burns 30 April 2019 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I am in full agreement with your position Alan.

  6. Ann 15 May 2019 at 12:12 am - Reply

    I agree with you Mr. Jones 100%

  7. Monica Bennett-Ryan 15 May 2019 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Thank you Alan for speaking up and saying what so many of us wanted said.

  8. Andrew C 15 May 2019 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I’d like to know why the rest of the Qantas board don’t stand up to Alan Joyce – who is clearly behind this hateful treatment of Israel Folau. He’s not a dictator – or is he?

  9. Kym Ivory 15 May 2019 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for your understanding.

  10. Shane Duke 15 May 2019 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks Alan I agree with what you say.
    It seems to me that not only christians believe in hell, or this would never have been an issue.

  11. Bethany 16 May 2019 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    I was and am really upset at the way Israel is being treated. I couldn’t quite put into words what was wrong, then I read this article and it explained in such a clear way where the prejudice and hypocrisy are. Thank-you.

  12. gail 17 May 2019 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    It is a sad day for Israel Folau and a very sad day for our nation to show such prejudice in a so-called democracy. It is so strange that someone speaking up about his own beliefs should lose his job and suddenly move from been a sports hero to unwanted by the mangers of his team… ‘The playing field’ is no longer level, socially, in sport or in the area of freedom of speech. Instead we have such an upside down society where values from the left are being forced upon the majority….this in turn gags freedom of speech. Instead of freedom those in authority of the Rugby team of Israel need to ostracise and dismiss and penalise him for sharing his views on media…so we can conclude the ‘playing field’ of democractis rights has become extremely bumpy, uphill and filled with social and religious ‘landmines.’. It becomes necessary to leave the game and to suffer loss, in order for Israel to share his own beliefs and values. Israel remains heroic in a different way- for his courage in face of such prejudice.

  13. Sakura 17 May 2019 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Agree with you Alan Jones, an all-too-rare voice of reason in an Australia gone mad, infected by marxist ideological lies. Israel Folau is a man of integrity and a role model for all. Israel, your commitment, faith and conviction in answering only to God and not men (and women) is an inspiration and a challenge to us all.

  14. Carmen 18 May 2019 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for your article, Alan! It gives so much perspective.

  15. W Dav 18 May 2019 at 10:54 am - Reply

    You can get caught and charged for breaking and entering with intent to steal (Quade Cooper on the Gold Coast) – you can get caught and have four charges of cocaine possession laid against you (Karmichael Hunt) – and nothing happens to your career – but – print one passage (quote) from the Bible on your own web page and you are sacked and your career terminated.

    All due to the gutless inept Rugby Australia hierarchy bowing down to the almighty corporate dollar from the ‘little Leprechaun’ at Qantas.

    Rugby Australia (and Qantas) can go and get stuffed.

    Never following Rugby in Australia nor flying Qantas again – and I would say there are many people in Australia and around the world echoing my sentiments.

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