In May 2019 Rugby Australia announced that it was standing down its star player, Israel Folau, following a series of Instagram posts that reflected his fundamentalist-Christian views of the world. Most offensive, it appeared, was the post in which he wrote, ‘Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators hell awaits you, repent!’
Adulterers, fornicators and idolators are unlikely to advocate for public sympathy, and Folau was primarily attacked for what was perceived as damaging homophobia, although one wonders how many Australians might escape his rather broad net. It was claimed that Folau had breached an agreement with Rugby Australia to contain his beliefs to private utterances, which were not seen as extending to social media. Even fellow Christian Scott Morrison felt the comments were ‘insensitive’ and ‘lacked empathy’, and some of Rugby Australia’s primary commercial backers made clear they would not tolerate such public utterances from a player whom they were supporting financially.
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