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Rugby boss says Folau could have put a "positive spin" on his message

Sportsman Israel Folau met with Rugby bosses yesterday to discuss the recent furor over his social media post that proclaimed gay people will go to “hell” unless they “repent” for their sins.

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Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and Andrew Hore, the CEO of Folau’s team the New South Wales Waratahs, met with the player in Sydney on Tuesday.

After the meeting it was announced that Folau would not face any penalties for his comments, but said the player acknowledged that he had caused “grief” to some people with his comments.

Responding to a question from reporters asking if Folau was aware of the pain his comments would cause some people Castle said; “Yes, and I think Israel has acknowledged that maybe he could have put a positive spin on that same message and done it in a more respectful way.”

Castle said the player had outlined how his views were in line with his beliefs as a Christian.

“Israel has presented his situation to us, where his views are, where his beliefs are,” Castle said.

“But at the same time, Rugby Australia has also got a policy and a position of inclusion and using social media with respect.

“Israel has gone away to think about his social media use, because for him he is proud of what he is and what he stands for, so he wants to make sure that we are not asking him to compromise those beliefs.” Castle said.

Comedian Tom Ballard pondered what a “positive spin” on the message of eternal damnation might look like during his opening monologue on his show Tonightly.

“Hell isn’t so bad, it’s warm.” Ballard said. “Lots of interesting people to talk to, I’m sure Hitler’s got a few stories, and on the plus side the place is packed with gays. It’s like bloody Mardi Gras down there. You’ll have a great time.”

The decision not to take any disciplinary action against the player has been welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby.

“It is pleasing to see that Falou has not been overtly disciplined for speaking about his faith,” the ACL’s new Managing Director Martyn Iles said.

“ACL is concerned that the so-called ‘ongoing dialogue’ with Rugby Australia about Falou’s appropriate use of social media could stifle his freedom to speak openly about his faith and marginalise his Christian identity into the future.

“The real test will be whether Falou continues to have the same freedom as other players to speak up for his beliefs, which are shared by millions of Australians.” Iles said.

The ACL said Rugby Australia should never have called Folau in for a meeting over the controversy, saying it was discrimination against people of faith who play sport.

Folau’s statements have fueled a series of newspaper columns and commentary from prominent Australians.

OIP Staff


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