When Israel Folau is asked to swear on the Bible before he gives evidence in the High Court, will someone from the legal team of Rugby Australia object that it is an example of ‘hate speech’? That’s a serious question now because as Miranda Devine reported in The Sunday Telegraph, even if Folau had simply “photocopied the passages that referred to in the posts… that would have caused a problem.”
What follows is a copy—supplied by Devine—of the transcript from Folau’s code of conduct meeting in May:
Q. What about when the Bible requires him to tell the good and the bad, that is, that the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear?
A. The Bible is not the contract that he signed with Rugby Australia.
Q. No, but it goes to his very being, does it not, his belief in that particular religion? I want to suggest to you that in real terms, in practical terms, that Rugby Australia did not assist Israel to understand what Rugby Australia’s expectations were as to how he could communicate his strong religious beliefs in a way that was still deemed acceptable by Rugby Australia. Do you accept that?
A. No, I don’t accept that.
Q. Following the 2018 post, did Rugby Australia commence to monitor his social media use more closely?
A. Yes, we did.
Q. And did you yourself personally monitor his social media use from that point on?
A. No, I’ve got people that kindly do that for me.
Q. I was going to ask I don’t know how it works, whether you’re a Facebook friend, or however you…
Q. You’re not?
The Chairman: Could I ask a question?
Mr Casselden: Certainly, Mr Chair.
The Chairman. Q. Ms Castle, what if Mr Folau had photocopied passages from the Bible and simply posted that on his social media pages, would that have caused a problem for you?
A. I think it depends on which ones he – which pages he photocopied.
Q. If he photocopied the passages that are referred to in the posts, would that have caused a problem for you?
A. Yes, it would have.
So, just to be clear. Folau’s contract was not terminated because he presented the Bible in an offensive way, but that he quoted from the Bible at all. This is a real game-changer in the whole Folau farrago. Because if this can happen to Australia’s best rugby player then it can happen to anyone.
Of course, it would have been a completely different story if Folau had quoted a different religious text from say, the Quran or the Hadiths. What would have happened if Folau had quoted one of the following?
‘Will you persist in these lewd acts which no other nation has committed before you? You lust after men instead of women. Truly, you are a degenerate people.’ Quran 7:81-82
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” Abu Dawud 4462 (This is a sahih hadith)
All of which is to say, Rugby Australia and its CEO Raelene Castle has a problem with Christianity. And as Miranda Devine rightly concludes:
Castle made a mountain out of a molehill, and has thrown Australian rugby into disrepute as a result, trashing morale and sabotaging the Wallabies’ chances in a World Cup year.
Having unilaterally condemned the foundational document of Judaeo-Christian civilisation as akin to hate speech, she [Castle] boasted in a press conference that her decision was a “landmark” which “will change the landscape for rugby and sport”.
There’s one person who should have been sacked, and it wasn’t Folau.