Israel Folau: excommunicated for his beliefs

The Wallabies player has been persecuted for his Christian faith.

Guy Birchall


Israel Folau is still being persecuted by the world of rugby for blaspheming against gay people. Folau is a staunch Christian. Last May, the Aussie egg chaser was excommunicated by Rugby Australia after posting online that homosexuals (along with drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters) faced hell if they didn’t repent their sinful ways. Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for a ‘high-level breach’ of the player’s code of conduct. The Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales also ruled that Folau had ‘vilified’ gay people.

Folau’s beliefs, daft as they may be, in no way impacted on his ability to play rugby. The man is entitled to his faith and should not be hounded out of his job (a job which ironically involves grabbing big men in little shorts) for vocalising it. He is the fourth highest try scorer in Wallabies’ history, but he was cut from the team in his prime because he said something offensive.

The punishment has done nothing to alter his beliefs. In November, he was filmed in church blaming Australia’s bushfires on buggery and abortion.

Now he has joined French Rugby League side Catalans Dragons. He played his first game on Saturday. Folau’s move provided European rugby with a chance to prove how wonderfully woke it is. Just 19 minutes after his signing was confirmed, Wigan Warriors declared that its upcoming clash against the Dragons on 22 March would be celebrated as a ‘Pride Day’. Players will wear rainbow socks and laces and LGBTQ+ groups will be invited to attend. One assumes that the invitation is also extended to drunks, fornicators, atheists and others who Folau said would go to hell, but Wigan Warriors didn’t feel the need to expressly mention it.

Obviously, Wigan Warriors have every right to do this, but it isn’t exactly a bold statement or some great leap forward for equality. Taking part in Pride events is now a basic PR exercise for virtually every organisation. Police forces, banks and even arms manufacturers can’t drape themselves in the rainbow flag fast enough. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A can’t even open in the UK without protesters shutting them down because the founder is a Christian opposed to gay marriage.

What this boils down to is people being punished for wrong think rather than wrong action. If Folau were threatening gay people or refusing to allow them to play rugby alongside him, that would be cause for serious censure. Just as if Chick-fil-A were refusing to employ or serve LGBT people, that would be cause for action. But neither is doing this as far as we are aware.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are cornerstones of any decent society. That means that views that go against the prevailing orthodoxy of the age have just as much right to be expressed as mainstream views. Just as it was wrong to punish and ostracise those who spoke out in favour of gay rights and against religious doctrine in the past, so it is wrong to silence those who still hold those religious views. It is no better to run Folau out of a job for believing homosexuality is a sin than it would be to boot Phillip Schofield off the This Morning sofa for coming out as gay. For his unsolicited sermons, Folau has been branded a fundamentalist, sacked and forced to the other side of the planet to get another job.

After the initial controversy first blew up last year, Folau penned a rather thoughtful response, saying that although he believed the Bible to be the true word of God, ‘every individual in this world is different… I don’t expect everyone to believe what I believe’. He is clearly less of a fundamentalist than those who would have him expelled from public life.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

Picture by: Getty.

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Ward Anthony

19th February 2020 at 11:25 pm

The Australian media (especially Fairfax) have been milking this for all it’s worth for a couple of years now. The comments section of the Sydney Morning Herald has had comments in the thousands which is unprecedented. Everyone is climbing on the soapbox to lecture on free speech, workplace contracts and of course “Won’t someone think of the gay children!” On that last point it can be proven how fatuous the accusations against Folau are because of this tragedy last month:
The real enemy for young gays is within and you can bet the people responsible for the social media bullying that led to this suicide won’t lose their jobs or face any censure whatsoever. Folau is a patsy and the Australian media are gormless hypocrites.

Cin Sirap

19th February 2020 at 10:04 pm

The CEO of Quantas, the major sponsor of Australian Rugby, put pressure on the ARU to dismiss Falau. Spoiler alert – the CEO is gay.
The venom and bile aimed at Folau for expressing his sincerely held Christian beliefs are staggering to witness. The politicisation of every aspect of daily life, be it sport, film or literature, continues apace, boring the rest of us rigid.

Ward Anthony

19th February 2020 at 11:39 pm

Not only that, Qantas’s corporate virtue-signalling on gay rights is blatant hypocrisy when you consider its partnership with Emirates, an airline owned by the government of Dubai (part of the United Arab Emirates) where homosexuality is a crime punishable by imprisonment, chemical castration or death.

JP Edwards

19th February 2020 at 8:39 pm

Just wondering out loud – what if a Wigan Warrior player decided he did not want to wear rainbow laces and partake in the rainbow celebration. Would he have to give his reasons and if he decided to say I just don’t want to, would he be shown the door.

Maranatha Jones

19th February 2020 at 7:16 pm

Let’s get real, sodomy is the coveted vice of the heathen. That’s the main reason they hypocritically pile on in mock outrage at the likes of Folau etc.

Danny Murphy

19th February 2020 at 5:12 pm

A London member of the Spiked! intellectual vanguard telling Northern wroking class people that they are woke. Surprise, surprise! Wonder if any of them know where Wigan is.

David McAdam

19th February 2020 at 4:26 pm

‘Daft as they may be’? Why did you feel you compelled to write this derogatory remark (as if I didn’t know)?

Dick Barrett

19th February 2020 at 3:56 pm

Two Ulster players were driven from their club last year after being found NOT guilty of rape. A court verdict is no longer enough to satisfy the demands of corporate “justice.”

Ven Oods

19th February 2020 at 3:47 pm

“blaming Australia’s bushfires on buggery..”
Blimey! Is that what he thinks arsonist means….

Genghis Kant

19th February 2020 at 4:11 pm

Well played

Michael M

19th February 2020 at 8:21 pm


Jim Lawrie

19th February 2020 at 3:28 pm

Mr Folau made clear his position in response to the ARU declaring itself and its membership in favour of same sex marriage, and therefore presuming to speak for him. The ARU gave in to pressure from their sponsors, Qantas. Mr Folau acknowledged this. The sponsors had bowed to the loudmouths.
Instead of sniping at his views, Spικεd should commend his courage in putting principle before mammon and the approval of others, and direct their fire at Qantas and the ARU.

We are in the territory that existed before The Secret Ballot, where an employer can now speak for you politically and sack you if you disagree. An attack on the secret ballot is on the cards.

Ven Oods

19th February 2020 at 3:50 pm

“Instead of sniping at his views, Spικεd should commend his courage in putting principle before mammon…”
I read the article as commendation rather than ‘sniping’.

Christopher Souter

19th February 2020 at 11:37 pm

The sponsors didn’t bow to the loudmouths.
Alan Joyce, CEO of QANTAS, (“the sponsor”), is himself a homosexual loudmouth who declared QANTAS as a company to be in full support of homosexual marriage. Very little, if anything at all, is known about the attitude of every individual QANTAS employee, and even less about the attitude of every individual QANTAS shareholder regarding its CEO’s pronouncement. I would be astonished if it could be shown, without a shadow of a doubt, that every single member of these two groups is in 100% agreement with Mr Joyce’s position.
And BTW, I refuse to use the word, “gay,” to refer to homosexual people.
The word, “gay,” the ORIGINAL meaning of which is “carefree,” has been misappropriated by the homosexual community, and its “new” meaning has nothing to do with its origin.

farkennel smith

20th February 2020 at 7:49 am

I do the same.Also,every opportunity I get,I correct those who use gay as a word to mean something that the power lobby group of the day decided it means.

Geoff Cox

19th February 2020 at 3:02 pm

“Wigan Warriors […] will wear rainbow socks and laces and LGBTQ+ groups will be invited to attend. One assumes that the invitation is also extended to drunks, fornicators, atheists and others who Folau said would go to hell, but Wigan Warriors didn’t feel the need to expressly mention it.”

Great line!

I smell double standards. Were these comments made whilst he was playing international rugby? If so, he has almost certainly broken his contract and I think some sort of punishment would fit this crime. However, would Rugby Australia have done anything if he said the opposite or spoken out against Trump? I doubt it. And, as someone put elsewhere, what if he was a Muslim?

Danny Rees

19th February 2020 at 2:08 pm

Nobody has mentioned “but what if he was a Muslim”?

Doubt the same people defending his free speech and beliefs would be so quick to defend him then.

Jim Lawrie

19th February 2020 at 3:36 pm

Danny in the unlikely event of your ever being sacked for talking rubbish then it is the people on here who will defend your right to do so.


19th February 2020 at 1:37 pm

Israel Folau should be put his own house in order before laying into everyone else… Matthew 7:1-5. The problem with so many evangelicals is that they are always raging at the sinfulness of the world (which nobody could deny) but never consider the greatest sin, that of pride, which Jesus spent considerable time exposing in the Pharisees. Too many evangelicals are neonomian hypocrites.

Jerry Owen

19th February 2020 at 1:07 pm

I’m sure the Wigan players will love wearing the rainbow colours.. oh, were they asked first?

Philip Humphrey

19th February 2020 at 12:15 pm

I think that this exposes the concept of ” diversity” as espoused by many liberals to be a sham. A devout fundamental Christian may genuinely believe that LBGTs risk going to hell, but he’s also loving and kind towards them in deed (as required by his/her faith). And even pointing out the risk of eternal separation from God is not an act of hate in his belief system, from that point of view he believes he is merely stating facts/belief and not to do so would be cruel.
I can’t help noticing that liberalism and woke-ness have begun to behave like the very worst of religion – becoming intolerant, not just policing people’s lives but also their thoughts. Religion is never going to go away, and Islam and the other religions will also come into conflict with the “woke” eventually. Somehow we have to build a society that freely accepts difference without flying off the handle every 5 seconds. In short we need true liberalism and tolerance, not the phony sort that we are currently being sold.


19th February 2020 at 1:08 pm

‘may genuinely believe that LBGTs risk going to hell, but he’s also loving and kind towards them in deed’ — That looks like a hypocritical sham to me. Evangelicals are notoriously obsessed with policing other people’s sexuality and attacking LGBT. They do so because this small minority is an easy target and not easily able to defend itself. I notice they almost never denounce heterosexual fornication, pornography, etc. which are far more widespread and far more destructive in their social effects. Nor do evangelicals denounce the Islamic presence in the west and fight to have Islam expelled from western countries. They will not denounce Islam because they would much rather pick a fight with a small minority who are unlikely to blow them up in the name of God. Evangelicals have shown great hypocrisy and cowardice in this regard.

Philip Humphrey

19th February 2020 at 3:20 pm

Most evangelicals are against any sort of sex outside of a marriage between a man and woman. And they may not have a lot of time for Islam because if Jesus is the son of God, who died on the cross and was resurrected, then the Koran which explicitly denies all of that cannot be true in their book. But nonetheless they are on the whole tolerant and gentle people, observing Jesus’s commandment to love their neighbours (be they LBGT, Muslim or whatever) and even their enemies. It seems ironic to me that some secular liberals accuse devout evangelicals of intolerance when real intolerance seems more often to be coming from people who call themselves liberals.

Ven Oods

19th February 2020 at 3:52 pm

“But nonetheless they are on the whole tolerant and gentle people…”
They certainly tolerated what some errant clerics were doing to children.

Michael M

19th February 2020 at 8:58 pm

Folau denounced the regular fornicators. And denouncing anything doesn’t work. Huge numbers of people in Iran are abandoning Islam for Christianity without that sort of nonsense –

Michael M

19th February 2020 at 9:08 pm

Christianity is becoming the most persecuted religion in the world.
I haven’t made up my mind if Folau is being persecuted for his faith or just for being obnoxious. I agree with his Instagram post, if not his sermons, but Instagram? Really? Evangelism by skywriting would be just as effective (i.e. pointless)

Remittance Man

19th February 2020 at 11:16 am

Thank you for mentioning the forgotten.
As an infrequent drunk, regular fornicator, occasional adulterer and long-time idolator, I feel that the exclusive right given to the LGBTQ+-XYZ crowd to be offended over Mr Folau’s remarks is discriminatory in the extreme.
Personally I think he has every right under the sun to believe and say what he likes, it bothers me not one jot. I do, however find Rugby Australia’s attitudes disgustingly exclusionary and -ist.


19th February 2020 at 1:09 pm

I find Australia abhorrent!

Ven Oods

19th February 2020 at 3:50 pm

Suffering ‘down under’ again?


19th February 2020 at 4:51 pm

VEN OODS — That was below the belt!

farkennel smith

20th February 2020 at 7:47 am

Speaking as an Australian I find your statement geographically offensive.Abhorrent is closer to the equator.

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