Most people would have heard of Israel Folau’s transgression on Instagram, where he stated: “Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves.” This caused him to lose his contract with Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby, because it breached the Professional Players Code of Conduct1. This was not so much because he denigrated drunks and others who more or less choose how to behave, but because he also stated that homosexuals will go to hell. This is what tipped his comment from admonishment of behaviour to hate speech, because homosexuality is not a choice, and as Mungo MacCallum states, “demanding repentance for what cannot change is both cruel and pointless – as silly as telling Folau to repent for having Polynesian heritage.”2 I cannot begin to imagine how a young Christian trying to come to terms with their sexuality, would react to being told by Folau that they are comparable to liars and thieves. I also cannot begin to imagine the silly thought processes behind Folau threatening people with hell, nor can I understand his inability to grasp the concept of irony in threatening atheists with it.
Now, many religious nutters have come out is support of Folau. They say he is being attacked for being a “blunt defender of the classic, conservative Christian faith” and that this is done out of love3. This is not quite correct. He is being punished for being a bigot and demonstrating that in defiance of a code of conduct. Kel Richards, in The Australian (where else?), firstly conflates being a Christian with being able to ‘speak their faith aloud’3. If this was so, then why does Richards not echo the words of a Christian apologist for slavery in the latter’s belief that black Africans deserved to be enslaved because they were “subhuman and brutish, ignorant, idle, crafty, treacherous, bloody thievish mistrustful and superstitious” as well as “incestuous, savage, cruel and vindictive, devourers of human flesh, and quaffers of human blood”. He compared blacks to orangutans and claimed that African tribes had had sexual relations with primates.4 Could it be that we as a society have grown up and realise that because a person is black, does not mean they are subhuman? Could it be that the religious will eventually realise that homosexuals are similarly not subchristian?
Next, Richards asks “why should the rights of one group trump all other rights?” He states that the right of homosexuals not to be offended trumps the “right of Christians to be as Christian as Jesus intended”3. He then goes on to state that the “homosexual community…appears not to be willing to accept disapproval” and will not “settle for anything short of complete approval”3. This is dishonest. All they ask is for tolerance, not approval, and certainly not bigotry. A further dishonest claim by Richards is that Folau lists eight ‘behaviours’. As MacCallum states (see above), homosexuality is not a choice; it is a matter of a person’s sexual orientation, just like being of Polynesian descent is not a choice.
The hypocrisy of so many Christians never ceases to amaze me. To get an understanding of the behaviours Folau actually does list, and the hypocrisy of Christians who indulge in these, all you have to do is to look at people like Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Scott Morrison and others5,6,7. They demonstrate so many of the behaviours that according to Folau, make them all hell-bound.
All you have to do to be a decent human being, is to adhere to the golden rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them for this is the Law…”. Richards, like so many other Christians, especially those in parliament, has apparently forgotten this. It is from Matthew 7:12, in that book they all pretend to follow. However, before you let Christians tell you it was their idea, the concept of such reciprocity goes back to ancient Egypt, India, Greece, Rome and Persia, as far back as 4,000 years ago9. I think a quote from comedian George Carlin is appropriate here: “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ‘til the end of time! But he loves you!”
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish religion from comedy.