World reacts to Folau’s bushfire blame
Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau's claim the bushfires that have devastated Australia and left six dead are God's punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage have sparked a furious reaction.
Dumped by Rugby Australia after warning homosexuals and other sinners they will go to hell unless they repent, Folau has doubled down on the stance in a video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney.
During the 10-minute recording, the 30-year-old says the timing of the bushfire crisis is no coincidence but only a taste of God's judgment should nothing change.
"I've been looking around at the events that's been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts," he says.
He then reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible. "The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left."
Folau links the passage to the twin disasters of bushfire and drought and, in turn, the legalising of same-sex marriage and abortion.
"The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years - God's word says for a man and a woman to be together … they've come and changed this law," he says.
"Abortion, it's OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children."
Folau says he believes the scripture is talking to Australia. "Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it's a coincidence or not?
"God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right."
'IT'S MANURE': ANGRY REACTION
Folau says he is sharing the message "out of love" but he stirred up a hornet's nest as his comments were picked up by news outlets across the world.
"As a Christian I feel so desperately sad reading that because that's not the nature of God, that's not the heart of God ... I feel like wearing a T-shirt saying 'not on my team'," Sky News contributor Gemma Tognini said.
"At least I will say this, (Folau) is willing to say what he thinks and stand by his beliefs ... That being said, there's no such thing as freedom from consequences.
"It's almost as if he's acting as if he doesn't care if he ever plays rugby again - and he may not care.
"I just look at him and say 'why would you say such divisive, hurtful things?' It's a hurtful thing to say to someone who has lost their home in a bushfire - that God hates you and he's punishing you. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's manure."
Anglican minister Peter Kurti said Folau was wrong. "If God really was going to punish us for changing the law on abortion (and) changing the law on marriage, it's the Parliament House in Macquarie St and the Parliament House in Canberra that should have been the target of God's wrath - not the mid-north coast and south Queendland," he told Sky News. "If God was angry, God's aim was off.
"These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens. But … we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes - and he's not a politician, he's not voting resources … he's a preacher talking to his congregation - surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive."
Folau thinks the Australian bush fires.— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) November 17, 2019
Which killed six.
Are the result of Australian abortion and gay rights laws.
The controversy which saw the dual international's $4 million contract torn up in April was his second run-in with Rugby Australia after being reprimanded for a similar social media post in 2018.
- with AAP
Front page of tomorrow’s @australian reveals Israel Folau preaching that the fires and the drought are because Australia legalised SSM...what a lovely Christian he is.— Peter van Onselen (@vanOnselenP) November 17, 2019
God must be so proud of you, Israel Folau.— Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) November 17, 2019
Re Israel Folau’s comments. Stop reporting on them, quoting them, retweeting them, and his reach and platform is dramatically reduced...Just a thought 💭— Sophie Walsh (@sophie_walsh9) November 17, 2019
Israel Folau is our punishment for ignoring climate change.— Patrick Avenelllllllllll (@Patrickavenell) November 17, 2019
People need to stop getting all ‘hot and sweaty’ over Israel Folau. I CAN’T get all sweaty because of a rare medical condition I got after being shot at in the Falkland’s war.— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) November 17, 2019
Israel Folau is the best heel since Randy Savage became the “Macho King”— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) November 17, 2019