from: Israel Folau Facebook page
For journalists the saga of Israel Folau, the Christian David taking on Corporate Goliaths, is the gift that keeps on giving.
Apologies to international readers, but the story of one of Australia’s best-ever rugby players who was sacked for criticising the homosexual lifestyle presents the issue of free speech for Christians in the starkest possible terms.
The latest act in this drama would be absolutely hilarious if such important issues weren’t at stake. No, I take that back. It is hilarious. Watching Goliath trip over his own shoelaces always is.
ACT 1: Israel Folau, devout Christian and rugby superstar, publishes an Instagram post reminding people that homosexuals, along with thieves, people consumed by greed, drunkards, and swindlers, are in danger of hellfire. Rugby Australia (RA), under pressure from its major sponsor Qantas and its gay CEO Alan Joyce, sacks him for being non-inclusive and homophobic.
ACT 2: Folau appeals and loses. He then sues Rugby Australia for A$10 million in damages. He sets up a GoFundMe site and asks his fans to help him raise $3 million to pay for his legal fees. If his case goes to the High Court, he may need every cent.
ACT 3: Folau’s fans, proud to back a bloke standing up for traditional moral beliefs, dig deep. In four days, the GoFundMe appeal raises about $750,000. Then, drum roll, Goliath trips over his shoelaces. GoFundMe makes a dramatic announcement: “Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors.” In the eyes of many of Folau’s supporters, this looks remarkably like theft.
What is the reason for this public relations disaster? GoFundMe's regional manager in Australia, Nicola Britton, explained that “this campaign violates our terms of service. As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.” Let's translate that from Silicon Valley Newspeak into plain English: GoFundMe, as a company, is absolutely not committed to free speech.
This is actually good news for Izzy.
Nothing could possibly enrage and energize his fans more than the disappearance of the $750,000 that they had donated to him. Nasty tweets? Egging his house? Scratching his sports car? Targeting his church? Can’t compare. GoFundMe’s carefully cultivated image of bland kindness and generosity has slipped; everyone can see the fear and loathing behind the mask. Terror of the LGBTIQ lobby makes people do irrational things.
What this lunatic move has done is cement in place the conviction that corporate Australia is a Christianophobic poodle of LGBTIQ interests. As Alan Joyce told a gay newspaper during the same-sex marriage campaign, “We have 580 companies involved with the [Australian Marriage Equality] ad campaign. If you’re unhappy with a company that’s involved with the campaign you won’t be able to bank and you won’t be able to fly anywhere.”
Or play rugby. Or donate to a controversial cause.
And speaking of controversial causes, whom does GoFundMe support? Lots of very progressive causes. For instance, there’s Seth, one of #gofundmeheroes. “Seth's world changed the moment his parents discovered his sexual identity. But now, he's turning his pain into a promise to help other LGBTQ+ students follow in his footsteps & get to college.” And there are 122 projects raising funds to attack Israel Folau.
GoFundMe’s lead project, pinned to the top of its Twitter feed, is “Fight Back: Protect Abortion Access” — which gives you an idea of how GoFundMe defines “inclusivity”. It aims to raise US$500,000, to be split amongst Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and GoFundMe’s charitable works fund.
The lawyers are preparing to dissect the minutiae of how the Fair Work Act 2009 applies to Israel Folau and Rugby Australia. But this is just a distraction from the main issue for the Australian public. GoFundMe has helpfully identified it for them. It’s not Folau versus Rugby Australia. It's Australia’s traditional Christian values versus would-be LGBTIQ overlords.
But it's more complicated than that! Folau breached RA's code of conduct and under Section 772, subsection (1) (f), RA is entitled to terminate his contract, yadda yadda yadda. Yes, it was more complicated. But GoFundMe has ironed out the wrinkles for us and it's all very simple now.
Who will win? The odds always favour guys with fire in their bellies. GoFundMe provides a way to measure that. In three days, Izzy had raised about A$620,000. In three days, “Fight Back: Protect Abortion Access” has raised a pitiful US$29,000. And who donated $25,000 of that meagre sum? Yes, it was GoFundMe, desperately virtue-signalling and trying to spark a fire amongst apathetic potential donors. Real people have only given $4,000.
In Acts 4 and 5, put your money on Israel Folau.
LATE FLASH: The Australian Christian Lobby has donated A$100,000 to Israel Folau’s campaign and set up a fund-raising section on its website. All donations will be deposited into a trust fund to cover his legal fees.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.