Gifted Australian rugby player Israel Folau has been in the news quite controversially lately.
He claims to be a devout Christian, as justification for social media posts that seem, to me, to be more hate speech than religion.
Rugby Australia terminated his lucrative contract (intended to run until 2022) for conduct unbecoming a player, as set out in the code of conduct that makes up part of the contract.
Now Folau is seeking damages for religious discrimination.
Ordinarily I don’t give a damn about sports and sports people. But we have a government now headed by Christofascist Scott Morrison, who has committed himself to new legislation to ‘protect religious freedom’. Look up the meaning of Christofascist and it seems to have been designed for Morrison and people like him.
He notably equivocated on Folau’s social media posts (News Corp occasionally deletes its news stories online, probably hoping to expunge history in line with Rupert Murdoch’s newspeak philosophy).
The reality is that religious freedom was never under threat in Australia until the present Coalition came to power in 2013, when Islamophobia began to be encouraged, and was largely unpunished.
What Morrison—a self-professed Pentecostal with not the faintest sign of Christian virtues—really means by religious freedom is the entrenchment of white Protestant fundamentalist privilege to be racist, sexist, homophobic, and prejudiced against anyone who has less money than he does.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the terms ‘Christianity’ and ‘Christian’ imply belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ, which include love and forgivingness even to one’s enemies. Citing Old Testament vengefulness, and fire and brimstone are simply incompatible with Christian belief. Folau and Morrison would be better described as recidivist hate-mongers than Christians.
What Israel Folau has done is confuse his own professed faith with bigotry and vengeful hatred. No one challenges his beliefs. No one challenges his bigotry. But he deserves censure for disseminating messages (or actions) that clearly discriminate against other religions, including some Christian sects, and that are no better than neo-Nazis referring to people of colour as ‘niggers’, or to Jews as ‘yids’ or ‘kikes’.
There’s no question that Folau is not an acceptable rôle model for sports fans. Especially not for children. There’s no question Rugby Australia has a case for terminating his contract.
What do reasonably-minded people have to do in prime minister Morrison’s Australia not to be exposed to hateful superstitions that have no place in any civilised society?