The Outrage Mob Is Out To Get Folau

Written by
12 April 2019
Originally appeared in Sydney Morning Herald

The outrage mob is out in force following rugby star Israel Folau’s latest social media comments. The mob wants to more than disagree with Folau’s opinion, as is our right in a free society. It wants to ban him from expressing it, which is totalitarian.

On Wednesday, a Rugby Australia spokesman branded Folau’s comments about sexuality and religion “unacceptable”, and said its integrity unit had been “engaged in the matter”. Now it has signalled its intention to sack him.

Folau shared on his Instagram account an image which said to “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators” that “Hell awaits you! Repent! Only Jesus saves.”

In the caption to the image Folau provided quotes from the Bible, and added: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”Advertisement

By all accounts, these opinions are a manifestation of Folau’s religious beliefs. Many people would profoundly disagree with what was said, and find such sentiments deeply offensive.

Should he lose his job for expressing a genuine religious belief? One held not only by many Christians, and also those of other faiths.

The outrage that followed has far exceeded Folau’s supposed wrongdoing. On Instagram, Australian soccer player Sam Kerr wrote: “Australia, we should not let athletes or ANYONE preach this hate in our country.” Prominent club level Aussie rules player Jason Ball called the comments “downright dangerous”. In this paper, Peter FitzSimons declared Folau needed to “repent” for his wrongthink before being allowed to play again.

The authoritarian desire to impose ideological orthodoxy on Australians is demonstrated in how our national flag carrier, and the sponsor for the Wallabies team, intervened in this situation. Qantas said of Folau’s comments in a statement released on Thursday afternoon that: “These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support.”

While Qantas says it believes in diversity, it doesn’t believe in the right of someone to express a religious viewpoint. Qantas is hypocritical. It has partner airlines such as Qatar Airways and Emirates, owned and operated by repressive regimes the Qatar and Dubai, respectively. Qatar imprisons those deemed guilty of homosexual acts, and the United Arab Emirates (of which Dubai is a part) punishes homosexuality with the death penalty.

There is a genuine fear in many fields about the tyranny of corporate social justice policies, and Qantas’s decision to intervene in this case shows why.

The NSW Waratahs – Folau’s employer – may be entitled under the terms of his contract of employment to sack him. But whether it should is a different question.

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Morgan Begg

Morgan Begg is the Director, Legal Rights Program at the Institute of Public Affairs

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