Persecution of Christians in Australia – Israel Folau
by James Fratzia
15 April 2019
The Persecution of Christians in Australia has become overtly demonstrated with the imminent dismissal of Australia’s best Rugby player, Israel Folau, by the commercially controlled Australian Rugby Union for publicly expressing his Christian viewpoint in a social media tweet last week.
The witch-hunt continues for other Christians who ‘liked’ Mr Folau’s post, such as Wallabies players Samu Kerevi and Allan Alaalatoa, and Australian Football League (“Aussie-rules”) players Geelong champion Gary Ablett and Carlton midfielder Matt Kennedy. Staff writers from news.com.au have gone one step further in the search for potential Christians and named elite sportsmen Aaron Hall and Zac Smith who have been noted to pray with them. They have not been punished yet.
Mr Folau has correctly identified from the Bible that that a number of behaviours and ‘approvals’ are an expression of heartfelt and intellectually considered opposition to God. They are behaviours which represent a lack of allegiance to God. In the minds of people engaged in such activities, God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care. Admittedly, Mr Folau’s Instagram feed is blunt
In the side panel Mr Folau quotes the Bible verbatim.
- “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
- “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 KJV
- “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38 KJV
- “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” Acts 17:30 KJV
A video has been shown in some of the on-line platforms showing Mr Folau interpreting Jeremiah 10-11. In this passage from the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites. The Israelites had the advantage over the rest of humanity because they had been selected as God’s portion of humanity to receive specific revelation and divine intervention throughout their history, and special laws from Moses. This both defined them and pointed them to God’ grace and reliance on God’s everlasting kindness to them. However, the relationship between Israel and God required they maintain their allegiance to God.
Jeremiah 10 says
1 “Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
In his online video, Mr Folau identified potential worship of images and Mary as a modern expression of the worship of idols. He was criticised in the media for insulting Roman Catholics. Mr Folau’s ‘spray’ was not targeting Roman Catholics specifically but all those who set up ‘idols’ in their lives and put them in the place of God, or as intercessors with God. This included ideologies, religion and philosophies, commercial and political and academic ‘idols’. His current defiance to ARU officials, despite a previous attempt to ‘gag’ him, is in direct response to the exhortation in the passage not to “fear them“.
The passage from Jeremiah 10 continues :
8 They are all senseless and foolish;
they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
the nations cannot endure his wrath.
14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the people of his inheritance —
the Lord Almighty is his name.
21 The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered.
Of particular note is the instruction by God to the prophet Jeremiah to warn the people:
11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”
According to the Bible and Christian belief, God is the source of all life and all that is good in life. And God will act against people who refuse to turn away from these behaviours because their hearts are corrupted. It is not the behaviours themselves that lead to destruction. It is the mindset and the heartfelt inclinations of the people who approve of them and or engage in them. Ultimately, people make their own choices. This is inherent in Christian belief. No-one is coerced. But the revelation in the Bible is clear. If people reject God, God will reject them. This eternal rejection by God is hell. And that is the entire point of Jesus who offers forgiveness when people shift their allegiance back to God. Mr Folau is warning people and giving a warning is not an act of self-righteousness (as the media want’s to imply), but an act of love.
Later, in Jeremiah Chapter 11, the passage says
9 Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them.( Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.
The passage uses the Israelites and the people of Judah as an example, but the Bible actually expands this application to the entire human world, with it’s many gods who aren’t God, and it’s ideologies and worship of things made by human ‘hands’. This includes modern ideologies, the philosophies of Hollywood moves, media celebrities, academics and politicians. The Bible also identifies potent powers and principalities in the background facilitating such an exchange of ignorance. Therefore, Christian’s believe that to some extent humans are involved in a bigger cosmic rebellion involving the spiritual realm, manipulated against God without even being aware of it much of the time. And no-one will escape God when God’s patience ends and God acts.
But the main force of the passage is that those who follow the one true living God should resist the ‘wisdom’ of teachers in the world who reject the one true living God and replace the knowledge of God with foolish ideologies, practises and harmful activities and behaviours.
Mr Folau is a faithful Christian man who is being persecuted by the ‘Godless’ for seeking to help people who do not acknowledge they are in trouble. They may not welcome his plea that they reconsider their behaviours but persecuting him for expressing it is the beginning of the end for freedom in Australia. If one puts a frog in boiling water it simply jumps out so it doesn’t die. But if the frog is put in cool water and the water slowly boiled, it won’t jump out and will die as the water boils.
It is about time Australians realised, whether they believe Mr Folau is simply insensitive to their Anglo-Saxon cultural subtleties or not, that their freedom has been taken away and they are like the frog in water. Those represented by the tirade against Mr Folau are spiritually ‘walking dead’. One day they may realise they are enslaved by the elite and cannot get their freedom back.
Mr Folau did not specifically target homosexuality but stated a range of behaviours that demonstrate a heartfelt and intellectual rebellion against God. Calling Mr Folau names like homophobic (scared of homosexuality) objectively doesn’t make sense when his enormous Rugby physique is taken into account. I doubt Mr Folau is afraid of homosexuals. But it does demonstrate the willingness of Mr Folau’s self-righteous opponents in the media to massage the facts in order to criticise and punish him.
Describing Mr Folau’s speech as ‘hate-speech’ is just another label by those who do not understand the love that motivated his social media post. In fact, such labels demonstrate a Christophobia in the West that is the norm in media and political discourse, and also a hypocritical lack of love for Mr Folau in accusing him of ‘hate-crimes’ for expressing his Christian belief.
What does this incident reveal about freedom in Australia today? Well, clearly ‘some are freer than others’ to express their views. Australians are subject to an unrelenting and unrestrained ‘Godless’ chatter from the media and their politicians, including their public broadcaster. Australians are increasingly subject to advertising from commercial interests, including that paragon of virtue, the airline QANTAS.
Under it’s C.E.O Alan Joyce there is no tolerance for any negative comments regarding homosexuality. To believe there is no pressure on the Australian Rugby Union by QANTAS to maintain a ‘homosexual inclusive’ culture is foolish. Yet the hypocrisy of QANTAS is breathtaking with it’s partnership with overseas airlines from countries which outlaw homosexuality, imprison or even kill homosexuals. Mr Folau has never advocated the mistreatment of homosexuals yet it is he and not Mr Joyce or the head of the ARU, Raelene Castle, who are losing their jobs.
There is a clear double-standard here as well. Rugby Australia and Qantas are free to promote their political beliefs about LGBTIQ issues, but Mr Folau is not free to express his Christian identity. Many of the cultural engineers in the media, including some current and ex-Rugby players on the pay-roll, claim that players should be immunised from the destructive or corrosive beliefs of their teammates. Yet Rugby players are frequently required to stand up for political causes to improve the political respectability of Rugby Administrations, such as the All Blacks recent “Diversity is Strength” campaign in which players are associated with rainbow jerseys.
As things stand in the public space in Australia today, people won’t hear about their saviour, Jesus Christ. Unless brave young Christian men and women take the risk and let people know. The elite prefer an Australia where the only public place ordinary people can find solutions to their problems is from the meaningless chatter of journalists, politicians, commercial products and politically-correct television shows and movies. It seems that in the interests of a narrowly defined inclusiveness, Australians are better off without hope, than with Jesus.
The hypocrisy of the wider Australian ‘civil society’ is also breathtaking. Quick to criticise Mr Folau and disagree with the Bible, most will nevertheless enthusiastically enjoy the Easter public holidays next week. Most will take Good Friday and Easter Monday off work, and enjoy travel and relaxation over an extended weekend. Yet the reason Good Friday is good, and why Easter is celebrated historically as a national holiday in Australia and most Western nations, is legal recognition of the hope for sinners offered by Jesus Christ. The nation actually celebrates the message that Mr Folau put in his social media post. Or it did so when Australia was founded. They’ll condemn him on the one hand, yet on the other enjoy the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all of us, sinners one and all.
Many who claim to follow Jesus might find fault with ‘clumsiness’, ‘lovelessness’, ‘judgmentalism’ or ‘insensitivity’ in the manner of Mr Folau’s expression. This may be the case with the news.com.au report regarding the views of Hillsong founder and pastor Brian Houston reported on-line on 15 April 2019 who may have been misrepresented. Nevertheless, Jesus himself separates the veracity of the allegiance of the ‘sheep‘ and the ‘goats‘ who claim Him as Lord in Matthew 25 by the compassion they show the least of their Christian brethren, and not by the sophistication of their communication to ‘the lost’ around them. “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25: 44-45. Mr Folau does not deserve condemnation from his alleged brethren ingratiating themselves to the wider society around them.
Is it now a pre-requestite that truth-telling in the public space be eloquent and carefully crafted? Mr Folau speaks in the plain and clumsy language of an ordinary Australian who has an extraordinary Rugby talent. When an Australian voice is shut down due to ‘clumsy’ use of words in the public space, democracy is extinguished; replaced by the cultural elites and their media mouthpieces. This applies to truth-speaking in Christianity too where traditionally priests and ministers have monopolised the ‘speaking public space’ to the exclusion of the less eloquent. This quickly turned Christianity into a shadow of what God intended. It is arguable whether the pastoral gravy train that Pastor Houston rides has anything to do with teaching service envisaged by the Bible. But Mr Folau’s willingness to lose a fortune rather than compromise on God’s truth is a genuine Biblical pattern.
Yet this arrogance of eloquence and educational status is opposed by Jesus who taught that truth can come ‘out of the mouth of babes’ Matthew 21:16. Jesus directly challenged the ruling elites by arguing that one can communicate the most profound truth without a degree in journalism, political science, law, theology or the academic humanities. This is an intense affirmation of human dignity, suppressed today by the ruling elites, like it was at the time of Jesus, who ironically appear to overwhelmingly self identify as liberal humanists or progressives. Mr Folau is expressing an identity that is entirely Christian. It is Christian identity that is being targeted by those who wish to replace God as dictators of our values and norms because it challenges their own sense of moral superiority or self-righteousness.
“Truth is incontrovertible,” wrote Winston Churchill. “Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; maliceWe are warned in the Bible of what happens when ‘truth-speaking’ is suppressed or disappears from the public space Isaiah 59:14. It is followed by injustice and unfairness Isaiah 59:15-16. And everyone will simply turn a away from any injustice or unfairness they see may distort it; but there it is.” Christians believe in an ‘exclusive‘ truth because it does not compromise for the sake of other ideologies. It is ‘absolute‘ truth because peoples’ opinions or social trends cannot change it. It is an ‘inclusive‘ truth because all of us fit into the categories of people identified in Mr Folau’s post, all of us are doomed and all of us have the same unique hope, ie, turning to Jesus for salvation from our doom. It is ‘good news‘ to those who can see this but offensive to those who cannot or do not want to see the nature of humanity around them, 2 Corinthians 2:15-17. And Jesus excludes all who do not have an allegiance to Him. Satan himself, seeks to distort or undermine this truth because Satan is misanthropic, John 8:44. Inherently, the message about Jesus is offensive to those who who do not welcome it because it is and absolute and exclusive truth. Mr Folau is behaving as if he believes this truth is absolute and exclusive, and there is nothing inconsistent with the historical belief system of Australia or Western civilisation.
We are warned in the Bible of what happens when ‘truth-speaking’ is suppressed or disappears from the public space Isaiah 59:14. It is followed by injustice and unfairness Isaiah 59:15-16. And everyone will simply turn a away from any injustice or unfairness they see. Most will have too much to lose and just remain silent. Does that sound familiar? It is the effect of totalitarianism on civilisation and leads to barbarism.
In order to understand Mr Folau we need also to see that for a Christian there is no difference between their allegiance to Jesus and expressing their ‘offensive’ faith, Matthew 10:26-28. In fact, they are inherently linked. Politically respectable policies of organisations like Rugby Australia which are intended to be ‘inclusive’ will inherently exclude Christians because it requires them to suppress who they are. Wallabies centre and Queensland Reds skipper Samu Kerevi expressed this precisely when describing the implications for him in response to the persecution of Mr Folau; “People can come up to me personally and talk about my faith and beliefs and I’ll stand by it, every day of the week,” he said. “One hundred per cent (I’m comfortable expressing myself), I’ll do it this weekend, I’ll do it every weekend … that’s who I am and footy is what I do.” Mr Kerevi sees the response to Mr Folau’s post for what it is because Bible believing Christians already expect this persecution – 2 Timothy 3:12; John 3:19-21; Matthew 10:16-18; Matthew 10:22; Matthew 10:24-25. His Queensland Reds and Wallabies teammate Taniela Tupou stated “Seriously, might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs”. At best, such innovative policies are counterproductive. They only really serve the self-righteous respectability vanities of those who put them together.
Lastly, consider the impact on society of ‘radicalising’ Christians. I’m sure the powers running the country will have already considered it. It may even be their objective to justify even more intense persecution. At worst, though the majority will simply accept the persecution, some will push back. And some of them will be ‘nutters’. The range of ‘misanthropic outcomes resulting from encouraging this push-back by marginalising Christian thought and punishing beleivers will simply feed the other sinister element of this persecution in the minds of Christians – that behind such persecution are dark ‘powers and authorities’ (Ephesians 6:12) with whom they are in eternal conflict.
In Australia today, a Christian expressing their belief for the sake of others, can lose their job. It is just the beginning of the persecution of Christians in this country.