Israel Folau and the Fight for Freedom

16 December 2019

2.8 MINS

Back in 2017 I flew down to Tasmania to interview the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous. The Archbishop had been brought before the Anti-Discrimination Board simply for producing a booklet outlining the traditional Christian understanding of marriage.

But the real reason I went was because—even before a decision on same-sex marriage had been reached—I could see that what was ultimately at stake was the issue of religious freedom. And now, only a couple of years later, that ‘threat’ has become a reality.

Israel Folau is now being sued by the gay political activist — and serial litigant — Gary Burns for ‘homosexual vilification’. This is despite the fact that Folau has been given an official apology by Rugby Australia. In case you’ve been living under a rock, or maybe just coming out of a medically-induced coma, this is what Folau had posted:


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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

Interestingly, there have been no liars, fornicators, drunkards, adulterers, thieves, atheists or idolaters who have decided to take a similar course of action. Which is all the more significant when one considers that there are proportionally far more people that fit into one of these seven categories then there are who identify as being LGBTIQ+. In fact, looking again at the list, it includes absolutely everyone!

But there’s a connection between what Burns is doing to Folau now and what happened to Archbishop Porteous down in Hobart. And that is, the process is the punishment. Because the goal is not that the complainant will win, but it’s that you will go broke merely trying to defend yourself against them. Just ask Bernard Gaynor, who has had a staggering thirty-six complaints made against him by Burns and has even had to sell his house to finance his legal costs.

You see, as far as the law is concerned, Mr. Burns doesn’t really have a case. The legislation is already there giving people the freedom to form a different point of view on the basis of religious teaching. As Mark Latham tweeted:

What Latham is pointing out here is absolutely spot on. And the specific terminology that he is using is also just as important. Because the strategy of suing people into silence is part of a larger legal approach called the ‘chilling effect’. It’s what Wikipedia defines as “…the inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights by the threat of legal sanction.”

Do you think any other denominational leader in Tasmania has produced a booklet on marriage since what happened to Porteous? Or has any other sporting celebrity been brave enough to post anything on social media similar to Israel Folau? That’s what the chilling effect achieves! And it is incredibly effective…

Maybe we should all change our Facebook profiles to Israel’s original post? Not to be offensive, but to prevent ourselves from being frozen out of the current situation. For make no mistake, this is not the end of the fight but rather, only the beginning. And it’s only a matter of time before the political activists catch up with you or me.


Photo: David Molloy, Wikimedia Commons.

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One Comment

  1. […] the media seem intent on bashing Australian Christians, such as sporting greats Margaret Court and Israel Folau, as being archaic, offensive and divisive, I was reminded that the Australian Church is actually […]

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