ISRAEL FOLAU OF THE WALLABIES CELEBRATES SCORING A TRY DURING THE INTERNATIONAL TEST MATCH BETWEEN THE AUSTRALIAN WALLABIES AND ITALY AT SUNCORP STADIUM ON JUNE 24, 2017 IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA. (PHOTO BY MATT KING/GETTY IMAGES)

 

  • Folau, 30, shared a ‘warning’ to people including homosexuals in Instagram post
  • The star fullback said they were going to hell unless they repented from ‘sins’  
  • Rugby Australia said post was ‘unacceptable’, integrity unit was investigating 
  • Hillsong founder Brian Houston apparently said in a deleted tweet he was ‘sad’ 

Hillsong founder Brian Houston has criticised Wallabies star Israel Folau for his latest homophobic social media message. 

Folau, 30, on Wednesday shared an image on Instagram directed at ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’.

‘Hell awaits you. Repent,’ the warning message read.

Houston,  based in Australia, a preacher who founded the global Christian megachurch with his wife Bobbie in 1983, said he was ‘sad’ about Folau’s post in a tweet.

Hillsong founder Brian Houston (pictured) apparently criticised Wallabies star Israel Folau for his homophobic social media messages

Hillsong founder Brian Houston (pictured) apparently criticised Wallabies star Israel Folau for his homophobic social media messages

‘So sad about the (Israel Folau) situation. His way is not the right way,’ Houston wrote in a deleted tweet, according to news.com.au.

‘It does not reflect the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament is clear, but grace does not point fingers. It recognises our own sinfulness. ”But by the grace of God’.’

The Hillsong Church, which famously counts Justin Bieber among its congregation, was part of the Australian Christian Churches group, of which Folau is a member, until it broke away in 2018.

There are now 80 Hillsong churches across the globe with over 100,000 members.  Daily Mail Australia has contacted Hillsong for comment.

It comes after Rugby Australia vowed to terminate Folau’s multi-million-dollar contract unless he can explain his social media attack, while the NRL has ruled out welcoming him back to the code.

Folau, a devout Christian, is one of the best rugby players in the world but has found himself in hot water before over homophobic tweets and Instagram posts.

Rugby Australia officials have struggled to manage Folau’s outbursts amid fears major sponsors could pull out if he is not sacked.

Qantas on Thursday appeared to threaten to pull the plug on their huge Wallabies sponsorship deal if Folau is not appropriately disciplined.

‘These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support,’ a Qantas statement read.

‘We are pleased to see Rugby Australia’s condemnation of the comments and will await the outcome of their review.’

Israel Folau (right, with wife Maria left)  shared a ‘warning’ to ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ to Instagram on Wednesday, saying ‘hell awaits’ them

 

Folau, 30, shared a 'warning' to 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters' to Instagram on Wednesday (pictured), saying 'hell awaits' them

Folau, 30, shared a ‘warning’ to ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ to Instagram on Wednesday (pictured), saying ‘hell awaits’ them

The devout Christian has shared similar sentiments in the past and was warned by Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle. Pictured: Folau's post on Wednesday

The devout Christian has shared similar sentiments in the past and was warned by Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle. Pictured: Folau’s post on Wednesday

Late on Wednesday, a Rugby Australia spokesman said Folau’s post was ‘unacceptable’ and added that the organisation’s integrity unit was ‘engaged on the matter’.

He was previously warned by Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle to avoid controversial comments of this nature after he shared similarly controversial posts.    

‘Rugby Australia is aware of a post made by Israel on his Instagram account this afternoon,’ the spokesman said.

‘The content within the post is unacceptable. It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the Rugby community.

‘The Rugby Australia integrity unit has been engaged on the matter.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says rugby player Israel Folau’s latest social media attack on homosexuals was ‘terribly insensitive’.

‘I thought they were terribly insensitive comments and obviously that was a matter for the ARU and they’ve taken that decision,’ Mr Morrison told ABC News on Friday.

‘It is important that people act with love, care and compassion to their fellow citizens and to speak sensitively to their fellow Australians.’

In February, Folau signed a multi-million dollar contract extension with the New South Wales Waratahs and Rugby Australia until the end of 2022.

Widely considered as one of the game’s best players, Folau became Super Rugby’s all-time leading try scorer on Saturday.

His post on Wednesday warned that those ‘living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent’.

‘Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him,’ Folau posted alongside two bible verses.

The star fullback also retweeted a story about Tasmania allowing gender to be optional on birth certificates.

A Rugby Australia spokesman said Folau's post was 'unacceptable' and that the organisation's integrity unit was 'engaged on the matter'. Pictured: Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle

A Rugby Australia spokesman said Folau’s post was ‘unacceptable’ and that the organisation’s integrity unit was ‘engaged on the matter’. Pictured: Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle

‘The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free,’ Folau tweeted.

In April 2018, Folau said gay people deserved to go to ‘HELL… unless they repent of their sins and turn to God’.

Folau made the comment on Instagram in reply to a question about God’s plan for gay people.

His comments forced a meeting with Ms Castle and Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore.

Ms Castle said Folau had caused ‘grief to some people’.

‘Israel has presented his situation to us, where his views are, where his beliefs are,’ Ms Castle said.

‘But at the same time Rugby Australia has also got a policy and a position of inclusion and using social media with respect.

‘Now both of us are going to go away and continue that dialogue, and work through how we continue to use how our social media platforms in a way that can ensure that all of our stakeholders are respected in the use of social media.’

During 2017’s same sex-marriage vote, Folau tweeted that he would not be supporting any change to the existing law. 

‘I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally, I will not support gay marriage,’ he said.

Folau married New Zealand netball star Maria Tutaia in 2017.

He was raised as a Mormon and switched to the Australian Christian Churches with his family in 2011.

Widely considered as one of the game's best players, Folau (pictured) became Super Rugby's all-time leading try scorer on Saturday

Widely considered as one of the game’s best players, Folau (pictured) became Super Rugby’s all-time leading try scorer on Saturday