Israel Folau has dispelled any hopes that he might reign himself in on social media by sharing a fire and brimstone speech by Evangelical pastor David Wilkerson, which includes a segment condemning tolerance for same sex marriage.
This follows on from an Instagram comment from the Wallabies star stating his belief that gay people will burn in Hell for their sins. In the wake of that controversy Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle met with Folau to try and convince him to tone down his religious commentary on social media.
The major sponsor of the Wallabies, QANTAS, will not be happy at the latest developments. It is firmly committed to diversity and to supporting people of all race, gender and sexuality. Officially Rugby Australia is as well – but how long will that perception last if Folau again gets off without even a slap on the wrist?
Folau comes off contract at the end of this year, and speculation is rife that he is simply courting controversy in order to drive home his value to RA and the NSW rugby union. If this is true, he is playing a very dangerous game. If it comes to a choice between their star player and their long term key sponsor, RA will pick QANTAS every time.
The Wallabies fullback has made no secret of his beliefs, and tweeted last year in support of the “No” campaign in the same sex marriage plebiscite. He makes sure that his messages condemning SSM and homosexuality in general are never aimed at any specific person, and also always mentions how much he loves everyone (except gay people apparently).
Folau also publically stated that his faith is the most important thing in his life, over his career, money and even his family and friends. He also offered to leave Australian rugby if his views are too unwelcome, putting the ball firmly in RA’s court. What happens over the next few months will be interesting.