Defending free speech for all is terribly hard, but there is hope

Why are good and right things never easy to do? We seem to struggle to live out our principles even at the best of times, but catch us on a bad day and we can utterly fail in that endeavour. Whether it’s standing with the helpless, defending someone’s rights, or holding back our road-rage, we know we are weak and in constant need of a radical heart-change. So whether you do or don’t support Israel Folou’s position or behaviour or court case, if you stand for free speech for all, you must be consistent in your stand. Israel Folou is infamously known for stating his beliefs on Instagram with a post about those in sinful lifestyles and that hell is awaiting them. Since then, his contract with Rugby Australia was terminated, after his actions were considered at a Code of Conduct hearing.

The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.

“Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union made the decision to pursue the termination of Israel Folau’s contract because of a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct. The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract. ” – RUGBY AUSTRALIA AND NSW RUGBY STATEMENT

NSW Warratahs

What has now followed has been a question of freedom of speech and whether Rugby Australia has breached fair work practices or laws by Folou’s sacking. Folou is currently seeking legal action for damages and, as he says, to defend his freedom of speech. He had a fundraiser to cover legal fees on GoFundMe, which was then subsequently removed by GoFundMe on the basis that it had violated their policy. The Australian Christian Lobby has since offered support to Folou and set up a fund for his legal fees.

Chief Executive Rob Solomon said Folau’s original request for donations was flagged as “high risk” within hours of going live with donations refunded in full.

He told News Corp Australia it was noted as “high risk” of violating its policies but said the company was “wide open for business” for religious causes.

Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.

I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.

Australian Christian Lobby

Do you find it hard to stand by your principles when you have to stand up for people you don’t agree with? Free speech for all is a nice concept, but will you defend your enemy in their right to say what they want to say? My guess is you would find it hard. We are complicated, contradictory people, and loving our enemies is probably the hardest thing we will ever do. On this issue of free speech some people wouldn’t have a big problem. But how about loving your enemy in general? Jesus had some pretty tough words to say to his followers about his kingdom:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Bible Gateway (Matthew 5:43-45)

Our standards seem pretty weak compared to the ones of the eternal kingdom. We can’t even keep our own standards. But that’s why Jesus came, so hypocrites, liars, drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, etc. like us could receive grace through his death and resurrection. And Jesus, the King of this coming eternal kingdom, has given us the Holy Spirit to help us want to do the right thing. Now if that doesn’t give you strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, I don’t know what will. Keep fighting on behalf of your enemy!

Do you have thoughts or questions? Leave them down below! In terms of Folou, I’ve come across many a comment that this is not a freedom of speech issue. Regardless, my point stands, whose freedom of speech do you struggle to uphold?