A few years ago, professional rugby player made headlines for quoting scripture to proclaim his agreement with Biblical, traditional marriage. Then he got a wave of persecution and a dismissal from his team for stating his Christian views publicly despite being one of the best players in the country. Today, Folau announced his return to the professional playing field at an international press conference in Australia.
His return to the game is backed by billionaire Clive Palmer, who is the financial supporter for the Southport Tigers, Folau’s new team. He’ll be playing alongside his two brothers. During the press conference, Folau opened his statement by thanking the Lord Jesus Christ for the opportunity to play again. When the press was allowed to ask their questions, instead of being focused on the sport, several reporters decided to try to stir up controversy by bringing up Folau’s views on the Bible.
Unshaken by the questions, billionaire Palmer defended Folau’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech in keeping with the laws and constitutional rights of Australians. Palmer also criticized efforts to try to stir up political controversy in sports when sports like rugby have been traditionally for recreation to bring people of all backgrounds and viewpoints together to enjoy. As the reporters continued to press Folau about the Bible, he explained how the majority of the people who gave him feedback supported his Christian views and the right to express them.
He then unabashedly stated, “I tell you what I do stand for. I stand as a Christian, I stand by the Bible and what the Bible says. Every written word that’s written in that book, I stand by that. … I didn’t write the Bible. That’s God’s written word. I believe that wholeheartedly.” The reporter then went on to ask about Jesus accepting every person for who they are. Folau then responded by pointing out the Bible has to be read within the context of each scripture, followed by his question to the reporter, which was, “Have you ever read the Bible?”
I must say that I’m thoroughly impressed by Israel Folau. While being pressured on the world stage for his faith, he stood firmly on his relationship with the Lord Jesus and refused to back down. It’s men like him that encourage me in my Christian faith. I pray that God will continue to bless him and his wife immensely for their commitment to the gospel. The video of the 22-minute press conference is at the link below. The good part begins at about the 1:40 mark.