Israel Folau’s Religious Freedom the Defining Issue of Our Time

5 May 2019


Editor’s Note: This Article from The Australian Newspaper is by Alan Jones.

Just when you thought the administration of rugby could not get worse, it continues to be a sporting embarrassment.

Does no one in a position of leadership understand the damage that is being done to the game as a result of the Israel Folau ­affair?

Who is going to be brave enough to put their hand up, even on the eve of this “tribunal” meeting tomorrow; or do we just keep digging the hole and burying the game?

Let me say up front that Rugby Australia, the administration, can’t win.

They have the most expensive legal advisers that money can buy. Surely they are telling Rugby Australia that this is unwinnable.

RA may get some vicarious satisfaction by hoping that Israel will be punished, rubbed out of the game, humiliated, ostracised, denigrated and the contract ripped up.

Well, I say, do your best. That strategy will not win.

I have written three articles in this newspaper on this matter. They have been among the most read and thousands of readers have left comments.

It is unprecedented and 95 per cent of them support Israel Folau’s right to articulate his religious ­beliefs.

In one week it is infinitely worse than it was.

We read in this paper, earlier this week, that the gifted Polynesian captain of Queensland rugby, Samu Kerevi, posted on ­Instagram on Easter Thursday, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that, who­soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life … Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross for me. I love you Jesus.”

You will recall we learnt that the tribunal could not meet that same weekend of the “offence”.

Rugby Australia wanted to sack Israel Folau for his Christian views.

It couldn’t because it was Easter and everyone at Rugby Australia was taking a holiday to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle.
Rugby star Israel Folau who faces an uncertain future.
Rugby star Israel Folau who faces an uncertain future.

And when we get to the tribunal stage, and affidavits are sworn, witnesses will take the stand, and, as Bernard Gaynor wrote: “Our legal system, in its zeal for the facts will allow people to swear on the Bible that what they say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help them God … the same Bible that Israel Folau quoted from … the same Bible that Raelene Castle says is so offensive that merely quoting from it should see one cast, weeping and gnashing their teeth into the exterior darkness … the same Bible (on which) our governors-general and prime ministers take their oath of ­office.”

The impotence of rugby leadership has been laid bare. Sporting oblivion beckons.

Did anyone note that only 10,000 people attended the Waratahs game at the brand new Bankwest Stadium last Saturday night? The public, fed up with the treatment of Folau, and all else, are voting with their feet and their wallets.

Yet what we see may be only the tip of the iceberg because players of similar Christian beliefs to those of Israel are saying, ‘well, you may as well sack all of us because we have the same Christian beliefs as Israel’.

I coached Taniela Tupou a couple of years ago in the Barbarians. A wonderful, simple, gentle, God-fearing person.

He said on Facebook this week: “I will never apologise for my faith and for what I believe in, religion had nothing to do with rugby.”

Kerevi, who posted the Christian message at Easter, also said he would not apologise for his faith in Jesus Christ.

They are basically saying, sack us or back off Israel.

Brisbane-born Billy Vunipola was slapped with a warning, in ­England, when he supported ­Israel; but three of his England ­teammates have stood up and backed Vunipola.

Make no mistake, this is a rugby crisis which has morphed into a social crisis which will open gigantic wounds in relation to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

It will be on for young and old. If need be, Israel will take this all the way and he will have no trouble funding any legal challenge.

Then I note that Israel, apparently, is not fighting to continue his rugby career in this country because as colleague Wayne Smith writes: “Rugby Australia has made it quite clear that whether he wins the case or loses it, his time with the Wallabies and Waratahs is over”.

I beg your pardon? So, if the tribunal finds in favour of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, he will be banished anyway.

If it finds against him, the matter will go to a higher authority to be heard all over again.

Rugby Australia are being represented at the tribunal tomorrow by former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson QC. Talk about pulling out the big guns.

Israel Folau (L) vies for the ball with South Africa's centre Andre Esterhuizen during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia in Port Elizabeth, South Africa last September.
Israel Folau (L) vies for the ball with South Africa’s centre Andre Esterhuizen during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia in Port Elizabeth, South Africa last September.

Gleeson is among the very best. That means he is among the dearest.

So, in order to nail, humiliate, condemn, banish and isolate Israel Folau, Rugby Australia are sparing no expense with money they do not have.

The rugby family must ask again, when are this blazer mob going to do the decent thing and resign or be thrown out?

They may be in office but they are not in power.

We have the unthinkable, where highly paid players are publicly saying who they will play with and who they won’t.

Not if I was coaching they wouldn’t. They would be told simply and emphatically that they do not pick the team.

Remember, this is the same board of Rugby Australia who axed the Western Force in 2017 to save $6 million when Andrew Forrest was offering the same administration $50m.

Now, Raelene Castle, on more than $800,000 a year, backed by the board, has decided that Israel Folau will not play for Australia.

To hell with the tribunal. She will be forced to pay out his $4m contract. This is really smart stuff.

On the eve of the Rugby World Cup, the administration is at war with its best player; and at war with players from the Pacific ­islands, who comprise almost half of the Australian team.

The place has gone mad.

Israel Folau could lose his job for quoting the Bible.

Sharing an excerpt from the world’s highest selling book is now discrimination, even though there is not a skerrick of evidence that Israel discriminated against anyone.

As Jennifer Oriel wrote in this paper this week, “corporate Australia is turning its back on free speech. Big business is Big Brother. The battle between Australia’s sporting codes (remember the chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission suggested ­Israel was a poor cultural fit for his game) looks increasingly like cashed-up bullies hunting a Christian.”

Among the thousands of comments I have received on previous articles, Chris summed it up best, “these are the defining issues of our time’’.

“Do we keep quiet while the institutions and sport we love are torn apart by virtue-seeking fools … they are in the minority … time to take a stand Australians.

“Thank god, Jesus and Christianity for giving us your voice, Alan. Sometimes it feels like a lone voice in the swell of the PC media.

“But the soon to be not-silent majority stand with you.”

Former prime minister Tony Abbott says it best: “If the silent majority stay silent they can’t ­expect to remain a majority.”

Tomorrow, at the tribunal, it is the virtue-signalling administrators of Australian Rugby who must be silenced for good, not ­Israel Folau.


[Read more here.]

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  1. Sitiveni 6 May 2019 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Best piece I’ve read thus far on this issue. Thanks Alan.

  2. Jenny schutz 7 May 2019 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Well written and we must not be silent and even a Gofundme pagebto hrlp funny Israel

  3. David 7 May 2019 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Not sure this is as cut and dry as you might think. The argument is that it’s not his words but a quote out of the Bible. Would you be so obliging if a Muslim player quoted a passage out of the Koran which speeks about cutting of the heads of the non believers?
    By today’s standards there are some pretty abhorrent statements in most religious manuscripts.

  4. Deidre 7 May 2019 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I still fail to understand how Folau’s post offended gays but did not manage to offend fornicators (far more of them than gays according to our society), drunks (sooooo many), thieves, idolators and other ‘sinners’. Where is the outcry over these others who were apparently insulted and vilified by Folau’s Biblical quote. If they don’t believe in the Bible, what is their problem. There was no hate speech and no personal condemnation of anyone.

    • Alan Sargeant 13 May 2019 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      The simple fact is that community standards don’t necessarily define what isright or wrong in particular faiths. Some elements may not be emphasised and most Muslims (members of ISIS and other fundamentalist Muslim groups excepted) don’t follow the passage from the Koran about cutting off the heads of non believers. The Bible has been the handbook of Christians for 2,000 years. In that time there have been groups which have interpreted it in such a way as it make it fit their desires and world views. To some extent I believe that this is happpening today when we are living in a non Christian society that expects it to be interpreted in a way that suits their world views. This may or may not produce a truly Christian outlook. Events in China where non Christian leaders are attempting to have the Bible rewritten in such a way that it accords with their political views and also have the Churches sing patriotic songs. Both clearly illustrate how the Biblical truth can be distorted by modern man without a true understanding of what Christianity ios about.

    • Alan Sargeant 13 May 2019 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Deirde. Totally agree, maybe Folau could have included the full list minus the homosexuals and then said there is also one group that is mentioned in Scripture but society deems them to socially acceptable but I am not free to mention their name because while they generally don’t believe in Scripture they get very upset at what Scripture says about them. He hasn’t directly mentioned homosexuals but I suppose they would also take offence atthe inuendo!

    • Andrew C 15 May 2019 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Add to your list “liars” – which covers every single person on earth! I support Israel 100%, and good on Alan Jones for publicly doing so too.

  5. Chris Gregory 7 May 2019 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Excellent article Alan Jones.

  6. Debra Mullins 7 May 2019 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Awesome article. Thankyou!

  7. bernard smith 7 May 2019 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    The best article i have read for ages,thanks a million Alan,keep em coming.God bless you and yours.

  8. Lynne Crichton 7 May 2019 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Thankyou Alan Jones, you write with a lot of common sense and truth. I support Israel and the other Christian players 100%. We need to all be able to freely speak our beliefs, and hold our viewpoints

  9. Robyn 8 May 2019 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Shows the darkness in the hearts compared to the bright light shining through Israel & those who stand with him.

  10. Charity 8 May 2019 at 10:34 am - Reply

    May your tribe increase. The press is your portal, God bless you for using it to represent the silent majority.

  11. Sandie 8 May 2019 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Absolutely spot on as are most of the comments. To lose one’s job over this is ridiculous but then now so the Rugby Union Admin.

  12. Fahad Hanna 8 May 2019 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Rugby Australia is a devil worshiper obviously. Their biased judgment and persecution against a national sporting icon like Israel Falau will put us all off rugby for sure

  13. Lina 9 May 2019 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Great article Alan. Years ago if someone wrote something we disagreed with we would just say to ourselves “idiot” and get on with it. Society is creating so much anger, violence, hatred, racism that I really fear for the future. Lighten up people! If you don’t like something, ignore it! If Israel Falau loses his job over this rugby has lost me.

  14. Sarah Kreiner 13 May 2019 at 9:26 am - Reply

    There is an account in 2 kings from verse 9 of Bible of a woman called Jezebel. It is as if Raelene Castle emulates this evil woman.

  15. Siosiana Tupou 13 May 2019 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Excellent articles Alan Jone well spoken when we see the right and know the right but if we still believe the Liar we must be Stupid but we are not God will fight for us I am ???? support the right and freedom of the Christian Stays strong Folau all my prayers with you and the supporters ????????????????????

  16. Sue 15 May 2019 at 2:55 am - Reply

    Let God arise! ….. His enemies be scattered, Let God arise!… arise!… arise!

    Sit back and watch the Hand of God as His people draw ever nearer to Him, …… and lose their fear of man.

    His Body is being formed. And drawn forth into the battle. True Godly Leaders will emerge.

    May His Kingdom come, ….. His will be done…. on earth as it is in heaven…..Holy is He!

  17. Ivan Joyce 15 May 2019 at 5:57 am - Reply

    Thanks Alan. Brilliant as usual.

  18. Anne Ferrar 15 May 2019 at 8:33 am - Reply

    When I came to Australia, at the bottom of every form, I had to sign that I would uphold Australian values. Looks like too many ‘Australians’ have lost the plot and are silent while the very foundations of the fabric of our society are being eroded on all fronts. Well done Israel. I salute you and pray for you.

  19. Monica Bennett-Ryan 15 May 2019 at 8:47 am - Reply

    All the minority ‘rainbow brigade’ have succeeded in doing through their vilification of Scripture, is wake a sleeping giant. Christians (the majority in the country) have been quiet up until now. But not any more! Our combined voice with drown out the noisy little minorities. Thank you Warwick and Kurt and ACL for providing platforms for Christians to speak with one voice. So timely. So needed. Let’s all encourage everyone we know to use these platforms.

  20. John Devine 15 May 2019 at 9:13 am - Reply

    An excellent article. We could expect more restriction of freedom of beliefs and expression as society became more secular. Thank God for those who have the courage to speak up for the truth,

  21. Julie 15 May 2019 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Great comments.

  22. TRSchrever 15 May 2019 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Disgraceful that Israel is so demonized for his personal beliefs which have nothing to do with his world famous ability as a player. I am also a christian, is Rugby Australia coming after me also because I back Israel 100 %? Well have a go you mug. Thanks for the well written article and Raelene Castle’s 8k a year won’t save her from anything when Christ returns.

  23. Alton Bowen 15 May 2019 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    The very best of us has not met the Creator’s standard of perfect behaviour. Bless Israel for making this fact public even at great personal cost. Time to stand up for freedom of speech, even if the truth sometimes hurts.

  24. Ken Powell 15 May 2019 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    An excellent article Alan. Thank you for speaking the truth for so many. We are now seeing many peoples true colours these days. From Marxists to moral deviancy, it is all on display. You shall be known by your works. It is no mystery. But the darkness hates the light because it exposes evil for all to see. We must continue to be salt and light as Jesus commanded. So good on ya Israel ! I stand with you, and all my tribe does too !

  25. Mark Elvery 15 May 2019 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Here, here. I am sick of all this PC stuff – go Israel, I hope they get it (they’re just dessert) handed to them on a platter.

  26. Dorothy McCredie 15 May 2019 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    (Israel afolau is only telling the Truth, found in the Bible, the source of our Laws in Parliament.
    Knowing the Truth will set you free.

  27. John Derrington 15 May 2019 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    Israel Folau’s quote was sraight from scripture so now it seems clear enough that the Bible is going to be tageted next and be deemed a book of hate speach as is the case in Canada. Free speach is becoming a serious joke in thus country. Communism never went anywhere, it just morphed into the Labour movement. Church arise and come Lord Jesus come!!!

  28. Jacque Downs 16 May 2019 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Yes to free speech, otherwise just about all the people I know including myself would not be allowed to open our mouths. I admire those who are standing up for Israel.

  29. Nancy Klum 16 May 2019 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Rugby Australia hold your head down in shame.. Israel quoted the bible .. mr Joyce got offended.. threatens to withdraw sponsorship so freedom of speech makes way for suppression of free speech and lack of acceptance and diversity in Australia…

  30. Daphne Hay 16 May 2019 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    As always common sense from Alan , this is a great article.

  31. Anne 16 May 2019 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Israel, God bless you for standing so strongly on God’s Word. I think you are waking up Christians to realise that the enemy will try to take us out when we speak up for the Word of God. We need to tell people the truth so that they know God loves them and wants salvation for them.

  32. jesse 17 May 2019 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Gods word does not return to Him void it will accomplish what it was sent.

  33. Camilla Hubbard 17 May 2019 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    These poems express my thoughts best on this subject. May God bless you abundantly, Israel Folau, for the stance you have taken, and Alan Jones, for the support you have given. Your social media post was a loving warning to anyone who could see beyond their own pride and self-justification.


    Why is it that so many deride
    The message of God today?
    Surely it is our stubborn pride
    In self, that gets in the way!

    But Jesus was gentle, meek and mild,
    His lessons were only for good,
    His love was for all, ev’n the little child,
    Yet still He’s misunderstood.

    He taught to forgive, and to care for all –
    The needy, the sick, those in pain –
    To be helpful and loving, and to stand tall,
    If in His strength we remain.

    It wasn’t just talk, His acts said the same,
    He gave up His life on the cross,
    But rose to regain His Holy Name,
    And ours was the gain, for His loss.

    Christ’s love is on offer, and each must choose,
    To accept His forgiveness and live
    With joy in our hearts, or otherwise lose,
    And from Heaven, be fugitive.

    Camilla Diann 9.4.2015


    I’ve heard it said ‘One wouldn’t want to know
    A God so harsh, He’d treat some people so,
    By sending them to Hell –eternal fire,
    Because they’d earned His judgement and His ire!’

    But no. I must protest, it isn’t so,
    He’ll only send them where they chose to go.
    His invitation’s open – to come into the Light
    ‘No thanks’ is what condemns them to everlasting night!

    It’s up to us to choose, accept Christ or refuse,
    But in refusing, accept that we will lose
    The chance to have His heavenly company
    From now and on, until Eternity.

    If loving God’s the goal, then Heaven’s the prize,
    Those turning away, would need to realise –
    Why would God want His Heaven to be peopled by
    Those who on earth reject and crucify?

    God’s perfect world, created for our best,
    Was spoiled when humans didn’t pass the test,
    His generous gifts forgotten… If we’re wise
    His loving justice we will recognise.

    All stand condemned when viewed through Holy sight,
    But true repentance ends our sorry plight.
    Our sins wiped clean through Jesus’ sacrifice
    God’s merciful redemption’s paid the price.
    Camilla Diann 11.3.2011

    • Jean Seah 1 June 2019 at 11:33 am - Reply

      What beautiful poetry, Camilla! God bless you for sharing it.

  34. Margy Hovey 17 May 2019 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    As usual Alan Jones has spoken for the people and the truth. I am dumbfounded that so many people these days get so offended so easily! this is a cop out to draw attention. So often we who are Christians are criticised for not standing up for what we believe, here is one young man who has, and his reward is persecution! Damned if we do damned if we don’t God bless Israel he is a very wise young man not afraid of the God he serves. ” If you confess me before men I will confess you before my Father in Heaven; If you deny me before men then my Father will deny you “….love Jesus

  35. Richard Banfield 17 May 2019 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Excellent article, Alan. It is time for all christian rugby players to stand up, and resign from the game en masse.
    And for all to choose not to fly QANTAS.

  36. Victoria 18 May 2019 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Where is freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Australia??

  37. Pat Gartlan 18 May 2019 at 8:39 am - Reply

    , this is the new progressive Australia where everyone is included, but just keep you religious beliefs to youself,,,,or else!

  38. Rod Pegus 18 May 2019 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Dear Israel
    May God continue to bless you and protect you in your public stand against this Godless world’s attempts to stop God’s word being spoken.
    Do not be surprised at the violent reaction you are experiencing. You have used “the sword of the Spirit” (God’s word – Eph.6 : 17), and consequently,have begun to hurt Satan badly. He now seeks to harm you.
    But remember, Israel, you have the prayers and loving support of millions of faithful Christians. Most importantly, you have the promises of Jesus in John 16: 33 -“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world”

  39. Michael Allam 19 May 2019 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Those responsible for the decision to sack Folau have their consciences to contend with. Some will laugh at the thought of a God, indeed many in the world now believe there is no God (the more fools are they!) They will discard Folau’s remarks as coming from an idiot. However others will discern that maybe what Folau has said is true, that indeed the homosexual lifestyle is against the natural law and that it is against truth, that homosexual activity, indeed any heterosexual sexual activity outside marriage, is abusing the true purpose of our sexual organs. These are the ones that will do everything in their power to trample the truth instead of facing up to their weaknesses.

  40. Graham 20 May 2019 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    I stand behind Israel 100%. People fail to remember that the Roman empire in the first century was militarily mighty. Rome ruled! But they fell. They were not beaten militarily, they imploded morally. Someone wiser than me said “the thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history” Lets not make the same mistake the Romans did.

    God offers everyone a pardon if they will accept the payment He has made for them by Jesus dying and rising again. He is truly loving, but He is also just. If you won’t accept the pardon, you have to accept the consequences.

  41. Liliana Dyba 10 June 2019 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Israel Folau God has chosen you for a time like this – take comfort you are an instrument of Almighty God – your plight has awaken a ‘sleeping giant’ most of the believers in this great Country – and we stand with you – God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you be gracious unto and give you His peace! Bless you heaps Israel!

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