Almost a year after facing a storm of criticism over his blatant, public homophobia, Israel Folau has made an Instagram post claiming that homosexuals will go to Hell unless they repent. The Wallabies and Waratahs star also reposted a story on Twitter about Tasmania’s decision to allow gender optional birth certificates, commenting that “the devil has blindsided” many people, who need to “REPENT and turn away from your evil ways”.
Folau retweeted a Christian meme which lists various groups of sinners who he believes are headed for Hell, which features “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”. The post has been slammed by Rugby Australia, who called the content “unacceptable” and “disrespectful to members of the rugby community”.
It is unclear how many of his fellow football players Folau thinks are going to Hell, although given he includes drunks and fornicators (presumably he means people who have sex outside of Christian marriage rather than everyone who has sex full stop) on the list, it would have to be most of them. The post also featured a caption from Folau which quoted several fundamentalist Bible verses.
Folau is a high profile member of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church, which also includes Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Horizon church. He grew up as a Mormon, before leaving that group to join the Hillsong congregation of the Assemblies of God. His outspoken religious beliefs have got him into hot water before, with his posts last year stalling his contract negotiations for months.
When Folau’s contract was renewed late last year it was widely believed that his homophobic comments had led to a significant pay cut for him, and that there was an understanding between him and Rugby Australia (and the NSWRU) that he would refrain from making controversial social media posts. It will be interesting to see how the Australian rugby establishment reacts.