Australian rugby star Israel Folau won his battle in court against Rugby Australia after he was fired for posting a picture on his Instagram account that read “Hell awaits you” with reference to, among other things, Homosexuals.
Interestingly enough, other behaviors were listed in that Instagram post, including drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters [sic].
However, not to leave those committing these sins in despair, Folau pointed to the biblical message of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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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. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
He also cited the Scriptures to back the message that he posted.
Rugby Australia fired Folau earlier this year for his “hell awaits” post, declaring it a breach of their code of conduct, and the former star sued for wrongful termination. At first he asked for $10m in Australian currency, but last week upped his demands to $14m.
Twelve hours of negotiating Monday ended without any progress, but on Wednesday RA and Folau’s representatives issued a joint statement declaring they had reached a confidential settlement and that both sides apologized for ”any hurt or harm caused.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that Folau plans to resume playing rugby, and received $8 million in the payout. Reports in the Australian indicated the settlement was between $1 million and $3 million. RA chief executive Raelene Castle tweeted reports like these were exaggerated.
Folau settlement numbers are confidential but numbers being speculated are wildly inaccurate
— Raelene Castle (@raelenecastle) December 4, 2019
Former Wallaby and writer Peter FitzSimons guessed the actual figure was far lower.
”I have no inside knowledge of the terms, not even a hint, but my bet is it will be about $200,000 to $300,000,” he said in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
On Wednesday, Castle said settling was “more cost-effective for us”.
”So we made a decision that gave us cost certainty that put us in the best financial decision entering the new year in a positive way,” she said.
Folau’s case has also garnered a huge amount of support from free speech campaigners and religious freedom advocates. After the player’s GoFundMe was shut down, faith-based advocacy group “The Australian Christian Lobby” set up an alternative campaign on their platform, taking donations of over $2 million to help Folau with his legal costs.
The case has also invited worldwide media attention, as it snowballed into one of the most highly publicized religious freedom lawsuits in years. Visit Folau’s website and you are met with the pressing question: “do you believe in the right of Australians to practise their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace?”
This central issue was both the basis upon which Folau’s case was lodged and was likely the determining factor for the settlement being agreed by both parties.
As for Folau, he and his wife took to video on YouTube to thank God and his supporters and claimed victory in the settlement.
“We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today,” he explained.
“With today’s acknowledgment and apology by Rugby Australia we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family.”
Israel went on to “thank God for His guidance and strength” and his supporters for their “thoughts and prayers.”
“We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith.. to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion,” Folau concluded. “We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians.”
“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality,” Folau’s legal team said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Rugby Australia noted that “inclusiveness is one of rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community.”
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus,” the statement continued, according to the Guardian. “Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”
Equality Australia, a LGBT advocate group, said that welcomed the end of what they called a “divisive and hurtful period for LGBTIQ+ people in rugby, in sport and more generally.”
The obvious question that none of these people understand here is that yes, it’s divisive to call out someone’s not only sinful, but criminal behavior, but why is that somehow hurtful or hateful? The answer is it isn’t if you actually believe those people will face the judgment of God for their behavior.
What Mr. Folau did was simply an act of love. Even anti-theist Penn Jillette acknowledges, “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
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