Earlier this week, Israel Folau penned a reprehensible piece in the Player’s Voice in which he repeatedly referred to homosexuality as ‘a sin’.
The piece has since received a huge lash back with players, fans and pundits left disgusted with Folau’s somewhat medieval logic in condemning the manner that others choose to live their lives.
Writing on his official Twitter account, All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara slammed Folau for the harmful and bigoted nature of his comments stating that there was no justifying the harmful nature of his comments.
I’d like to add my voice to the conversation currently taking place. As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people. Notably, young Māori and Pasifika people.
— Tj Perenara (@Tj_Perenara) April 18, 2018
Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not ok to say that. It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.
— Tj Perenara (@Tj_Perenara) April 18, 2018
Specifically reacting to Folau’s piece in the Player’s Voice, highly regarded rugby journalist and commentator Nick Heath also penned an incredibly powerful response to the 29-year-old highlighting the ludicrous and bizarrely selective religious justification of his archaic beliefs.
Check out Heath’s powerful letter to Folau in full below.
Cards on the table, Izzy. I’m an atheist. Having to attend a Catholic Sunday service every week until you’re eighteen can do that to you. I empathise with your weekly attendance to your Mormon church as a bit of a “box ticking” exercise to appease your parents, mine was the same. I opted to walk away from religion, you continued to believe in God. That’s absolutely fine.
My belief is that ‘faith’ is a human conceit to deal with the abrupt and painful end to our fleeting existence as sentient organisms. In life, you are allowed to agree to disagree.
You take your guidance from the Bible. I take mine from my friends and family and any judgement I receive comes fairly and squarely from them. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Love unconditionally. Try and forgive others for their misdemeanours because you will want that forgiveness at times too. To me, this is just basic human kindness and consideration.
Plenty has been written, if not tweeted, about the cherry-picking nature of living modern life to the lessons of the Bible. I understand your church is the Assemblies of God. Their UK website says, “We believe that the Bible (i.e. the Old and New Testaments excluding the Apocrypha), is the inspired Word of God, the infallible, all-sufficient rule for faith and practice”.
Where do we start Izzy? Leviticus promoting the purchase of slaves? That “the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, you are not to do any work”? Where do you choose to draw the line?
You have previously said, “I think God has given everyone a certain gift or talent… I believe the talent I have is from God.” You happily take a different stance from Canterbury’s William Hopoate who will not play on Sundays due to his Mormon beliefs, stating, “I have a different view and perspective of the way I play sport.” So you CHOOSE to perceive things as they suit your modern life? Your modern life where playing sport on a weekend pays your wages.
Izzy, this is where things have unravelled. You were asked your view on God’s plan for gay people. This is, therefore, a passage of the Bible that you have CHOSEN to follow and, despite having some “teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay” you have stuck fast to the script on this one.
You mention how lost you were when you moved to Greater Western Sydney. You were kept up a lot of nights, you were “emotionally broken”. It sounds tough but it was a decision you made for yourself, which admirably you came through strongly.
Now picture a seventeen-year-old Wallabies supporter living in the outskirts of Sydney. He’s confused, he feels different to his classmates. He thinks he’s got feelings for another male classmate. It’s who he is. Unlike you, he’s not making choices, he’s going with the pure, loving feelings in his heart. He reads your Instagram post. Instead of bravely dealing with his feelings, learning to love himself and to grow emotionally, he reads he will be banished to hell if he does not repent. He feels ashamed, lost, perhaps “emotionally broken”. Your profile and decision to be outspoken in reply on the beliefs you CHOOSE to live by has not saved a man about to “walk into a hole”. You have opened one up right in front of him.
You chose to speak up, without invitation, about the gay marriage vote last year in Australia. You wilfully expressed that you would not support it. If any of your children grow up to find that they are gay, I will feel desperately sorry for them. In fact, it could feasibly transpire that you, as a Bible-following Christian, are unable to support your own son or daughter’s marriage where I, as a non-religious man living to my own morals, would happily stand there in your place to witness that love is love. For all that is written about love and forgiveness in your religion, why is it so hard to come by?
You conclude your piece, “At times, you can feel alone and down. But Jesus told us that when you stand up for Him in this world, you can expect backlash. I find peace in that.” As a public figure in a modern world that aims to promote love above hate, a fairly Christian sounding idea I think you’d agree, I do not see why you seek the backlash. I don’t like girls doing their makeup on the Tube. I’m not planning on shouting that on the 07.53 to Charing Cross tomorrow morning. Should free speech allow me to? Absolutely. Is it a nice thing to do? Not really.
My reply to @IzzyFolau and the article “I’m a sinner too”.
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) April 17, 2018