Australian Christian Lobby donates $100K to help rugby star Israel Folau fight for religious freedom

Israel Folau
Israel Folau. |

The Australian Christian Lobby is now backing embattled rugby star Israel Folau with a $100,000 donation as well as their platform to raise money for a legal battle over his religious freedom after his contract with Rugby Australia was terminated due to his conservative Christian beliefs.

“On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent,” Martyn Iles, managing director of the grassroots Christian group with more than 135,000 members said in a statement. “I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.”

The backing comes after popular fundraising website GoFundMe shutdown a fundraising campaign that had raised more than $500,000 in a week for the rugby star’s legal defense, said the BBC.

"As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity," GoFundMe spokeswoman Nicola Britton told the BBC Monday. "While we welcome GoFundMe's engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion."

Folau, Australia’s most popular rugby player and an outspoken Christian who until his firing in May commanded the world’s highest salary for the sport, had asked the public for donations to help him with his fight against Rugby Australia, arguing that he had been dismissed unlawfully.

The former Wallabies superstar lost his contract after he was charged with a high-level code of conduct breach for sharing a scriptural message on social media that Hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, [and] idolaters” who do not repent.

“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW,” Folau said in his appeal for help.

“In response, Rugby Australia have already said that they will ‘divert significant resources’ to fight me in court. Even if I win, Rugby Australia can appeal. There is every chance that a prominent test case like this could take years and eventually end up in the High Court of Australia,” he continued. “My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia's internal tribunal processes. The money I am asking for is to fund the rest of my action in court.”

Australian media reported that Folau’s congregation at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church has gone underground due to repeated attacks from critics but he continues to share his faith on social media.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV,” he wrote Sunday on Instagram.

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