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Scott Morrison has blasted sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau’s “appallingly insensitive” sermon after he claimed the catastrophic bushfires in NSW and Queensland last week killing six, was God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage.  Speaking to reporters, the Prime Minister, also a practicing Christian, said Folau’s comments were not representative of the religious community.  “The thoughts and prayers of Christians, are very much with those who are suffering under the terrible burden of fire,” Mr Morrison said.  “I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments.  If people don’t have something helpful to say, can you just keep it to yourself.”

One of Folau’s closest allies, Alan Jones, also attacked the former rugby star, who had his Rugby Australia contract terminated over homophobic social media posts.  Jones told listeners to his 2GB program that Folau needs to “button up.  Israel is a lovely human being, I know him well.  But Israel, button up,” Jones said.  “These comments don’t help.”  Folau said the timing of the bushfires was not a “coincidence” while delivering a sermon at his church in Sydney.  “The law and ordinances of these things have changed,” he said.  “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time.  Is that a coincidence or not?

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are OK in society, going against the laws of what God says.  Abortion, it is OK now to murder and kill infants, unborn children, and they think that to be OK.”  Folau told fellow worshippers at the Kenthurst church the drought and bushfires were God’s way of telling Australia “You need to repent” and that they were only a taste of what God’s punishment could be.  Labor leader Anthony Albanese described Folau’s comments as “pretty reprehensible.”  “I think most people when they think of God or spirituality, they think of something positive and they think of a loving god,” Mr Albanese told Sky News.

“They don’t think religion or faith in those terms and his comments are pretty reprehensible frankly” Albanese said.  Mr Albanese said that in the context of six people losing their lives and hundreds of homes being destroyed in the blaze, Folau’s input didn’t bring anything “constructive” to the discussion.  Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Folau’s sermon was diverting important attention from the climate crisis.  “Israel Folau’s comments were obviously hurtful and absurd,” Senator Di Natale said.  “But giving oxygen to this outburst is a convenient distraction from the real problem behind the fires, our climate crisis fuelled by the burning of coal, oil and gas.

”Trying to distract people by focusing on controversial commentary by former footie players only delays action to reduce carbon pollution, and puts both communities and firefighters at risk” Natalie said.  Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce also chastised.  Mr Joyce told Seven News it was pointless to engage with Folau.  “He throws rocks at us so he feels good, we throw rocks back at him so we feel good, but not one of those actions is making a sandwich for a person fighting the fires,” he said.  “Not one of those actions is actually in a fire truck trying to stop these fires.  Israel can concentrate on what he wants to say and I don’t really care and we’ll concentrate on the fire.

Liberal MP Dave Sharma described Folau’s comments as “off the grid”, telling Sky News he disagreed with the sacked rugby star “strongly” and he wouldn’t seek to give him any more publicity.  “I think it’s important we focus really on the bushfires themselves and how we deal with them, how we combat them and how we help communities recover,” Mr Sharma told Sky News.  Folau’s latest sermon comes as Australia is in the grips of an un­precedented bushfire crisis affecting three states, with four people killed in recent weeks.  “What you see out there in the world, it’s only a little taste of what God’s judgment is like,” Folau said.

“The news is saying these bushfires are the worst we’ve ever seen in Australia, they haven’t seen anything.  God is speaking to us.  Speaking to you to repent and to turn away from this.  “We look back to what God has done to Sodom and Gomorrah, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed that city because of the sin that they were living in.”  The rugby star’s Wallabies contract was torn up by Rugby Australia in May after he shared a social media post saying that homosexuals were going to hell unless they repented. The 30-year-old said in October he had no regrets over the Instagram post during a conference hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby.

In his sermon on Sunday, he said same-sex marriage and abortion were “evil in the eyes of God” but were deemed by society as “good”.  “This generation is full of arrogance and full of pride,” he said.  “They want to turn their back on God.  They don’t want to know one bit of who God is because they’re so immersed in their sinful, wicked, evil ways.”  “I knew it was going to be offensive to a lot of people, but ultimately it’s a message of love,” Folau said.  In another sermon in June, he took aim at transgender children, saying the government was letting children, “basically 16 years old or younger”, go through treatment despite “not even knowing what they are doing”.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has defended Israel Folau and accused the media of attempting to “paraphrase a sermon” which has caused unnecessary angst.  ACL managing director Martyn Iles, said sermons “don’t lend themselves to quick soundbites” and that Churches were also offering practical support to victims and firefighters.  “Churches across Australia are also praying for rain, for repentance, and for God’s plan in people’s lives to be strengthened even through difficulty.”  He defended Folau’s right to speak out, not only on this issue, but on any issue on which he felt strongly.

“Israel did not claim to know that the current bushfires are God’s direct judgement for same-sex marriage.  Nobody knows God’s mind, nor do they understand ultimately why bad things happen” Isles said.  “We do know that the Bible says God is sovereign over everything, and He is ‘our ever-present help in times of trouble”. (Ps 46:1)  A call to turn our minds and hearts to God in challenging days such as these is supported by all Christians,” Mr Iles said.  “Not all Australians will resonate with these beliefs, but the many who do shouldn’t be threatened or lose their freedoms.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports