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.)

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.

Voluntary euthanasia to begin in Victoria as assisted dying laws take effect this week

“Patients will take a glass, mix the drug with two liquids provided by the pharmacist and swallow the mixture. …”

– The latest developments in Victoria. ABC News.

‘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.)

Election over; what now for religious freedom?

“Christians should continue to press for religious freedom after an election in which the issue appeared to play a significant part, according to the Bishop of South Sydney, Dr Michael Stead.

Dr Stead chairs the Religious Freedom Reference Committee and was a frequent commentator in the media during the campaign. He believes that notwithstanding the result of the election, there will be very significant questions around religious freedom in the next 12 months. …”

– Story from SydneyAnglicans.net.

Giving thanks for BCA at their Centenary

One hundred years ago, on 26th May 1919, the Bush Church Aid Society was formed in Sydney.

Be encouraged to learn more at this link – download the Centenary videos – and give thanks to Almighty God for this work of his gospel.

(You can also download BCA’s latest Prayer Notes and The Real Australian.)

4 Urgent Conversations Australians need to have after Folau

“The Israel Folau saga has uncovered an urgent need for Australians to have conversations about the sort of society we want to live in.

When Folau first posted his controversial Instagram post, there was an immediate reaction from many cultural commentators, demanding he step down. Rugby Australia, his employer, was only too happy to agree. But as time has passed and emotions have cooled, there seems to be a growing backlash against Rugby Australia’s actions toward Folau. And I don’t just mean from Christian or conservative voices. …”

– Akos Balogh writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Hell just won’t go away

“It is time for Christians to think about what they really believe and why, and to formulate answers to these hot topics, explanations that are grace seasoned with salt. If colleagues at work or fellow students uni are aware that we follow Jesus, are they not already asking us these kinds of questions?

Surely it is prudent for us to be thinking biblically, lovingly, clearly, and winsomely.”

Murray Campbell on how Christians should respond to the topic which introduced into the election campaign this week.

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