An Australian rugby player is calling himself a “persecuted prophet” after making a homophobic comment on Instagram.
Israel Folau, a devout Christian who plays for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, said that God’s plan for gay people was “HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
Doesn't quite fit with Israel Folau's "I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions" line from last year. pic.twitter.com/A023XnxRBd
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) April 3, 2018
In response to the social media backlash he has received since the comment, Folau suggested that he sees himself as a “persecuted prophet” by tweeting Bible verses from Matthew 5.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,” Folau highlighted. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) April 8, 2018
This is not Folau’s first anti-gay comment to garner controversy. Last year, he said that he would vote “no” in the postal survey vote for providing marriage equality to same-sex couples.
While Folau may be standing by his Instagram comment, the leagues that represent him could force him to retract it. Both the heads of Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby reportedly have a meeting with him Tuesday morning.
The two organizations have not announced what, if any, punishments he will receive, but did denounce Folau’s comments as contrasting to the rugby leagues’ beliefs.
“Israel’s comment reflects his personal religious beliefs, however it does not represent the view of Rugby Australia or NSW Rugby,” said Rugby Australia CEO, Raelene Castle. “We are aligned in our view that rugby is a game for all, regardless of sexuality, race, religion or gender, which is clearly articulated in Rugby’s inclusion policy.”
Qantas Airlines, who is a major sponsor for Folau’s national rugby team, the Wallabies, also condemned his comments.
“As a sponsor of Rugby Australia, we’re supportive of their approach towards tolerance and inclusion, which aligns with our own,” a Qantas spokesperson told Fox Sports. “We’ve made it clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing.”
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