After eight months of waiting, there has been a mostly-positive outcome between Israel Folau and Rugby Australia (RA).  The two parties agreed to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum. Out-of-court settlement is, by definition, a compromise.  As such, there were wins for Israel and for religious freedom. But there were some potential losses as well.  First, it is great that the two parties were able to come to an amicable agreement before the fight got dirty in the courts.  Secondly, it is heartening to see that Rugby Australia apologised to Israel Folau for the hurt they caused him and his wife, Maria.  Thirdly, though we don’t know the amount, Israel was compensated financially.

This sends a message to all Australian employers that discriminating against an employee on the basis of their religious faith will hurt the pocketbook.  But the Israel Folau saga has exposed some concerns about religious freedom in Australia, too.  For one, the outcome for Israel was only as good as it was because of his celebrity profile.  If it were you or me, we might have lost our job without anyone noticing. Indeed, an increasing number of Australians are facing various forms of discrimination like this.  Consider also that despite Rugby Australia’s apology, CEO Raelene Castle went right back to repeating the mantras that she used to unfairly sack Folau in the first place.

“We stick to our values that inclusiveness is absolutely core to the key of rugby,” she said after the settlement.  “Everybody in rugby needs to be included regardless of what their background is.”  Neither she nor anyone at Rugby Australia seems to understand the glaring irony and stark hypocrisy in such pronouncements.  Israel Folau was explicitly excluded for his faith.  Because he believed and paraphrased the Bible, he somehow doesn’t count in the “everybody”.  The reality is that for Rugby Australia and many other bodies that have bought into the new “woke” ideology, tolerance is only extended to those who think exactly the same as them.

Israel is to be commended for how he has carried himself throughout the dramas of 2019.  He possibly conceded more than he should have in the settlement.  The statement he signed said, “Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he shares RA commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”  But if RA’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity is what drove them to sack Israel in the first place, should he share that commitment?  Inclusiveness and diversity are good values.  But only if they leave room for people who believe the Bible, too.  This is why we were glad to hear of the government’s plan to write a new draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill for release next year.

The first draft on offer lacked clarity, and what clarity was there seemed to make life harder for Aussies of faith, not easier.  We welcome the government’s new draft, and ask you to join us in praying for those God has appointed to write it.  Events like this can seem haphazard and circumstantial.  But in Daniel 2:21 we read that “God changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”  Nothing is outside of God’s care or oversight.  He is the one directing the affairs of mankind, including Australia’s laws that protect us from tyranny.  So please, join with us as we ask God to advance Australia fair.

Source: Canberra Declaration

Print This Post Print This Post