Freedom of faith and Israel Folau — Public Statement from Archbishop Glenn Davies

“Christians do not ask that everyone agree with us on the reality of heaven and hell, but it is part of our faith DNA that we speak out about Jesus, whatever the cost. I say again that I support Israel Folau as a Christian brother.”

Archbishop Glenn Davies has issued a public statement on Israel Folau and the issue of Freedom of Speech, Conscience and Belief.

Full statement follows:

“Israel Folau’s right to express his faith and act according to his conscience is of fundamental importance in any democracy, and it is of great concern to many Australians that this right is being denied and vilified. Many are wondering whether they will be next. No-one should suppose that there are not deeply held views on either side of this issue. But at the moment, only one side is being heard. The way in which Folau’s motives have been impugned and his avenues of support have been cut off smacks of a new and ugly Australia where dissent from narrow cultural views is not tolerated.

The original post on Instagram canvassed some basic tenets of the Christian faith. It was not the entire Christian message, but it was posted without malice and from a place of deep conscience and concern. It encompassed all people, for we are all liars. It was posted with respect and with urgency. It had nothing to do with rugby and it should have been his right as a citizen to speak of what he believes without threat to his employment.

Christians do not ask that everyone agree with us on the reality of heaven and hell, but it is part of our faith DNA that we speak out about Jesus, whatever the cost. I say again that I support Israel Folau as a Christian brother. I support the right for him to articulate his faith in the public sphere of social media. I admire the resolute way he has given his personal testimony. Why, in the diversity of views in modern Australia, is that faith to be silenced – the faith from which springs so much of the values and virtues of our own civilisation, let alone the charitable works of many Christian churches across our land.

Ultimately, this will not be decided in the media. The clear support of ordinary Christians has been ignored, marginalised and silenced. Many commentators (and many politicians) have failed to understand the precious nature of conscience and belief and its power in the lives of ordinary Australians. Loud, intolerant voices swamp the quiet faith of many. But I pray that what Israel Folau is going through may shine a light on an issue which is vital to our democracy and of crucial importance for Christians – freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to live according to our faith.”

Dr Glenn N Davies
Archbishop of Sydney
25 June AD 2019.

Source: SydneyAnglicans.net.

Australian Christian Lobby donates $100,000 to Israel Folau

“In the wake of GoFundMe’s removal of Israel Folau’s fundraiser, the Australian Christian Lobby has today donated $100,000 to his legal defence and is assisting Israel Folaul to launch an alternative fundraising site. …

–  Read it all here.

Update: Israel Folau’s donations surge past $600,000 after GoFundMe ban – ABC News.

“The Australian Christian Lobby’s Israel Folau support fund looks set to surpass the sacked rugby star’s previous GoFundMe campaign total of $750,000 in just 24 hours.

Donations have poured in at a rate of almost $1,000 per minute with the fund now worth more than $675,000…”

(Editor’s note: The Anglican Church League and the Australian Christian Lobby share the same initials, but are different organisations.)

“Grafton Synod indicates rejection of both National Constitution and Bishops’ Agreement”

“The Synod of the Diocese of Grafton, which met this last weekend, has passed a number of controversial motions and heard a question which indicate a walking away from aspects of the national church constitution and the recent Bishops’ Agreement. …

the Synod debated asking the General Synod to introduce same-sex marriage and blessing liturgies. That motion, as expected, was passed along with a number of related matters. What surprised some delegates at Synod was that the following motion was comprehensively defeated:

27. Standard of Worship and Doctrine

That this Synod affirms the authorised standard of worship and doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as set out in the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution.

The motion was defeated in a vote by houses with approximately 2/3 of the delegates voting against.”

– David Ould has a report.

‘Smear campaign’: Why Aussies are giving Israel Folau their money

“The managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby says Australians are pouring money into Israel Folau’s GoFundMe appeal in fear of their rights around religious freedoms. …

‘Israel Folau has today been accused of greed, playing the victim, and being in a conflict of his own making. All three accusations are false,’ the Australian Christian Lobby MD wrote on Facebook. …”

– Story from Yahoo! Sport.

In his weekly video, ‘The Truth of It”, published 19 June 2019, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martin Isles read a long excerpt from Israel Folau’s ‘controversial’ sermon in which he allegedly ‘targeted transgender youth’. What did he actually say?

Update: ‘Israel Folau’s campaign shut down by GoFundMe, donors to be refunded’ – ABC News.

“Sacked Wallaby Israel Folau’s attempt to crowdfund for his legal action against Rugby Australia has been shut down by GoFundMe, which will refund all money raised to donors. …”

How might Folau’s court case impact religious freedom?

“A victory in his case would be helpful as sending a message that believers have the freedom to speak in accordance with their faith, even when saying something that offends. And perhaps in persuading employers that they should not try to rely on over-broad “codes of conduct”. …

If he loses his case, it will in my view send a message to corporate Australia that they can require uniformity of opinion on controversial topics. It may lead to further restrictions on what Christians can say in public.”

The Gospel Coalition Australia speaks with Associate Professor Neil Foster about the decision by Israel Folau to begin legal proceedings against Rugby Australia.

‘Israel Folau launches extraordinary attack on Rugby Australia’

“Just days after Israel Folau launched legal action against Rugby Australia the fallen rugby star has hit out at the entire RA board.

In a scathing letter that has been published by The Daily Telegraph, Folau has demanded answers on how intimate details of his Code of Conduct hearing, which was meant to be private, came to fall into the hands of prominent rugby journalist Jamie Pandaram.

Ironically that letter has now made its way into the hands of The Telegraph and been published for all to see. …”

– Story from News.com.au.

Folau test case expected to set a precedent for workplaces

“A senior Sydney Anglican Bishop wants Wallaby Israel Folau’s unlawful dismissal test case to challenge whether workplace code of conduct agreements impinge on employees’ expression of religious beliefs.

Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead, said religious leaders were closely watching the Folau case in the Fair Work Commission which he said had implications for workplaces nationally. …”

– Story from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Further reflections on the Israel Folau affair

“In a previous post I commented on the events surrounding celebrity rugby player Israel Folau’s posting on social media of a meme stating that various groups of sinners, including ‘homosexuals’, were destined for hell unless they repented and put their trust in Jesus Christ. He was immediately threatened with dismissal by his employer, Rugby Australia (‘RA’), a threat subsequently implemented through an internal tribunal finding that he was guilty of a high level breach of the RA ‘code of conduct’.

It seems an appropriate point to comment on recent developments and to clarify what it seems Mr Folau’s legal options are. …”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster, Associate Professor in Law, looks at some of the options which might be available to Israel Folau, should he wish to pursue them.

Folau’s faith compelled him to shout a warning: repent

“Folau’s employment looked so unfair to him that he bypassed their internal appeal process as pointless and announced his intention to test them in the courts. So Rugby Australia now will either lose the court battle or lose its major sponsor. It has already lost its best player.

This is no storm in a tea cup: this is central to Australia’s character as a nation and raises three questions:

Let’s tackle them. …

He is drawing attention to the fact that classical Christianity is certainly about judgment, but it is also about sacrifice and forgiveness. For 2000 years Christians have been calling it “good news” because the news that God loves you despite your behaviour and offers forgiveness can only count as very good news, indeed.”

– Kel Richards writes a very helpful article in The Weekend Australian. (Subscription.)

Stalin stalks the church school classrooms

“As a curate in the mid-1990s I used regularly to teach the Bible to the children at the Church of England primary school in the parish. I could not have imagined then that the spectre of Stalin would one day stalk the classrooms of church schools. …

If a future historian were to chronicle the destruction of British democracy, Mr Parker’s letter of resignation as a Church of England vicar to the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, would be an important historical document:…”

Julian Mann reflects on the experience of the Rev. John Parker with the transgender advocates.

(Image of John Parker from Christian Concern.)

Vicar resigns as primary school imposes transgender ideology

“A Church of England primary school has taken the unprecedented step of allowing a child to transition from a boy to a girl in the school without informing parents until the day of the transition or putting any agreed policies and procedures in place. A rare audio recording has also revealed how the school brought in controversial trans lobby group Mermaids to train staff and governors. …

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting the courageous Rev. John Parker who resigned as a governor after his concerns were ignored and silenced.”

See the video from Christian Concern.

See also:

“After his worries were dismissed by the bishop, Mr Parker quit the church where he had been a vicar for 14 years, and also the school after seven years as governor.”

– from The Daily Mail, via Anglican Mainstream.

Uniting Church threatens to split over liberal same-sex marriage stance

“The Uniting Church is facing growing unrest as conservative factions push for it to reverse its decision to allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

Multiple conservative movements have been gaining force since the church last year gave ministers the right to perform the ceremonies.

conservative worshippers claim they are being disciplined and isolated for participating in networks like the Assembly of Confessing Congregations.

Members of the Campsie Uniting Church in New South Wales said they were barred from the church and left to worship on the footpath. …”

– Story from ABC News.

Earlier, related, stories.

(Photo: Dr. Deidre Palmer, Uniting Church President.)

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