Come on, Israel,
Seriously, mate. What in God’s name happened?
Before I start, I just want to say something to those who might be reading this and thinking, “Why should we care?”. You’re one percent of the population.
People are often reducing us to “the one percent”. Why should we, as a society, bend at the knee to that one percent? Who cares what one percent want? It’s a way of misrepresenting the number of us to a level that makes it easier for people to dismiss.
Australia’s population is 24.6 million. One percent of that is 246’000 people, but given that the number of people who publicly identify as LGBTIQ+ is closer to four percent or perhaps even higher, and you start to get a picture that we are not an insignificant number. You should care about our fate.
I care about my fate and my community, which is why this year I decided to join a sports team – something I had never done before as an adult as I was never athletically minded and I wanted to do something that put me out there a little more. It was suggested by a friend of mine who was on a local team that I might like to give rugby a shot – and so I did.
This means your actions, Israel, have become personal to me on two fronts – as a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTIQ+ community, and a person who is now developing skills as a rugby union player.
While I initially found the idea of nearly 37 year old, 6″ and 150 lb me on a rugby team to be laughable, it has since grown on me. I may never be a great player (or even a good one, for that matter) but already I have experienced more love in sport in the few short months since I joined than in the entire three decades and change preceding them.
I have met some of the most incredible people and finally, I have laid some of my demons to rest.
And then you walked in with all your drama.
You, Israel, who is purporting to have been sacked because of your Christianity. But let’s look at the larger picture and a few simple facts, shall we?
For starters, the antediluvian idea that homosexuality is immoral strictly by the virtue of it being homosexual is completely at odds with all modern understanding of sexuality. I don’t understand how anyone can equate adults engaging in consensual sexual behaviour to be as immoral as a person ostensibly committed to another but getting a bit on the side. Need I remind you that only one of these things apparently made God’s top ten list. And it wasn’t being gay.
In August 2014 you were featured on the cover of the Star Observer for an article about ending homophobia in sport. One of the things I have noticed about that particular article is that you were never quoted directly, unlike your Wallabies teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper. And yet, your face is plastered on the cover and you are attributed in the article by a spokesperson as doing “a lot of work in that space”.
And yet, before and since, I can find absolutely zero mentions in any media on exactly what work it is that you’re alleged to have done.
So – I have a question. Were you ever an LGBTIQ+ ally, or was our community merely manipulated into being a stepping stone on your road to an increased profile and some positive visibility? Or was our community perhaps used as an unwitting front for you to eventually be able to point to say “I can’t be homophobic because…”?
Such as a stance is normally the first defense of a homophobe.
Or was this all just part of the master plan? Donning my tinfoil hat for just a moment, have you been an ACL sleeper this entire time? At this point, I put nothing outside the realm of possibility.
Because three short years after gracing the cover of Australia’s largest LGBTIQ+ magazine, with nary another peep about your alleged great work within the space of discrimination in sport, you betrayed the community that you – via a spokesperson – previously claimed to stand beside.
Despite many attempts of other conservative Christian voices who have turned themselves into a pretzel in their enthusiasm to claim that it is possible to speak out against the LGBTIQ+ community while simultaneously loving them – it really isn’t.
Margaret Court tried that once, claiming she couldn’t be homophobic because she had members of the LGBTIQ+ community in her flock. What she failed to mention, was that they were undergoing the controversial and abominable practice of conversion therapy, which has now been banned in several states due to its psychologically damaging effects and it having been debunked by every respectable health organisation.
Not to mention, “I love gays, as long they try to become straight” isn’t really a rational argument when trying to disprove one’s homophobia.
In any case, fast forward to 2017, and we come to what was to be the first public expression of your anti-LGBTIQ+ views, as you infamously Tweet your support for the No campaign while at the same time Rugby Australia announced their support in favour of paving the road to marriage equality. And with that Tweet, you declared yourself as no longer being an LGBTIQ+ ally, if ever you really were. Which I doubt.
Since then, you have made your feelings concerning my community quite clear and the cumulative comments that you have shared ultimately culminated in your eventual dismissal.
So, with that in mind, is what you are doing really rooted in your Christian faith? After looking at the public evidence, I say no.
There is nothing Christian in aligning yourself with the giant powerhouses in anti-LGBTIQ+ rhetoric and conservative, right wing, echo chamber commentators whose sole aim is trot you out as the new face of alleged “Christian persecution” because they want to cry victim since gay people are now considered normal citizens in the wider society and it’s no longer deemed appropriate to vilify them.
The Australian “Christian” Lobby – a political organisation supported by big donors and who are basically the Australian iteration of American anti-LGBTIQ+ hate groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council – like to pretend that they are a grassroots movement for soliciting funding from hard-working Australians while also concealing their big donor roots.
It amazes me that deep-pocketed political organisations supported by massive donors – like the ACL – dare to also try and bleed their communities dry by claiming to be a grassroots movement.
To put it in perspective, Christianity has 2.2 billion adherents globally, of which the Catholics claim 1.2 billion. That presents a lot of opportunities to grab cash. The Catholic Church is the richest political force on the planet with nearly unlimited resources who have spent years hoarding the money bled from their followers. And yet, for some reason, as an organisation they have a lot of trouble putting their hands in their own pockets – even to further their agenda.
And it turns out, Israel, you also have trouble shelling out to defend your own position.
There is nothing Christian about a man worth $7 million trying to solicit $3 million so he can sue his ex-employer for $10 million while putting nothing of himself on the table.
Do you place so little value in the strength of your conviction that you refuse to put any of your own worldly possessions at risk?
Also, there is the question of how you arrived at that figure. Even being an incredibly high profile case, a lawyer friend of mine said that three million for an unfair dismissal case is ridiculous. By their estimate, you could litigate anywhere between 100-200 similar cases with that amount of money. So…where’s it all going? One imagines into the coffers of the ACL.
In what way are we supposed to really view a rich man begging for money to go to court to defend his “freedom” to denigrate LGBTIQ+ people without consequence in the name of “religion”, and fraudulently misrepresent his actions in the process.
“…You must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” – Ephesians 4:25
Before being pulled down for violating their term of service, your GoFundMe campaign page erroneously stated that the action for which you were “wrongfully” terminated was “sharing passages from the Bible on social media” and that you believe “sharing passages from the Bible is an act of compassion and love”.
I guess that really depends on the passages – and also your definition of compassion.
Consider the following passages, Israel.
“…As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. ” – Hebrews 13:1
Or one of my personal favourites:
“…The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17
None of the above passages, nor the hundreds of others similar to these, would have raised the eyebrows of Rugby Australia and in fact would likely have increased your profile and cemented your position as the quintessential “Good Christian” player, allowing you to both express your faith and continue playing the sport you love.
But this wasn’t the message you shared. was it, Israel?
In fact, the major part of what you shared wasn’t directly from the Bible at all, was it, Israel? According to the official record, it was best described as ‘paraphrasing’ the Bible, but that’s really a stretch.
Also, it is worth noting that – despite your claims – there was nothing compassionate, kind or loving in what you shared, was there, Israel? Or am I missing something from this – something that looks like it came directly from the “God Hates Fags” campaigners over at the Westboro Baptist Church.
Now, for a moment, let us consider the full verse you ‘paraphrased’ in the meme uploaded to Instagram, which, to your credit, was included with the image caption.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21
Or perhaps you could have also gone with this one:
“He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:7-8
If you were to have shared either of these passages without the meme, I highly doubt we would be having this conversation. The fact that the meme altered key words, and thereby its overall meaning was changed, you made it perfectly clear that you were, in fact, specifically targeting the LGBTIQ+ community.
The fact that homosexuality is not mentioned in the actual Bible passage you shared is also evidence that your post was deliberately engineered to denigrate the LGBTIQ+ community, and once you shared words that actually were not from the Bible, it stopped being about sharing the word of God and became your interpretation that suited your agenda. You twisted the word of God to meet your needs.
So, you were not fired, as you claim, for your faith, as there are a million ways for you to express your faith positively without cyberbullying an entire portion of the community through a meme that misquotes a passage from the Bible. A passage, mind you, that doesn’t actually mention LGBTIQ+ people at all.
Your claim to simply be “sharing passages from the Bible” is misleading at best and at worst could be considered fraud. Fraud, I might add, from which, via your now canceled GoFundMe campaign, you attempted to financially benefit from. Liars and thieves, I believe featured on your meme list also, yes?
As far as I’m concerned, these actions put you directly into the same category as the likes of cancer con artist Belle Gibson, serial perjurer Nelly Yoa and professional swindler Hamish McLaren. Not exactly esteemed company to keep now, is it?
Maybe I will eventually go to Hell -that’s yet to be determined. The way things are going though, I’d comfortably wager you’ll be right down there with me.
You see, not all those who are religious are good, and not all those who are good are religious. The two are not mutually exclusive, and simply stating an act is borne out of a religious belief doesn’t immediately mean that its intent is righteous, or just, or even rooted in religion at all. Sometimes its just prejudice disguised as religion.
People have been throwing the Book at gay people since it was first printed and I can only ever be reminded of this scene in the 2004 movie ‘Saved!’, about a girl who gets pregnant to a boy in her school, who is also discovering he is gay. I love this film, but one particular moment really sums up this entire debacle quite nicely.
The Bible is not a weapon, nor a shield for you to hide behind, Israel.
If it was, I would perhaps be tempted throw the book at you myself – after all, I’m just a mere poof, reference to me and my kind buried in the ravings of a man who also had some pretty severe opinions about shrimp, mixed fabrics and tattoos. Tattoos, Israel.
Whereas you and your false witness are in blatant breach of the top ten list. One could argue you are headed down the road of putting one’s own soul in peril. After all, are not the conditions for mortal sin grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent? Instead of worrying about everyone else, one would do better to guard well thy own soul, Israel. After all, your ilk is very fond of indicating that it’s a slippery slope.
Your employer made it part of their mission and vision to fight against homophobia in sport and to promote diversity and inclusion, which – despite your claims – includes Christians. All they asked was their mission be upheld and you failed your end of the bargain. Miserably, I might add.
At the end of the day. you are not fighting for religious freedom, or even for your right to express your faith.
To get really controversial and quote Anton Szandor LaVey, “Anyone who says “we must try to understand” those who make life miserable for those undeserving of misery is abiding and abetting a social cancer.”
You are trying to escape being held accountable for actions that perpetuate the vilification of the LGBTIQ+ community. Actions that you were expressly told that if you engaged in would lead to consequences. Consequences that you subsequently made the conscious and willing decision to ignore.
To most reasonable people, knowingly engaging in a forbidden action leads to consequences. We are taught this as children. It is also literally spelled out in the book of Genesis. As a man of apparent faith, I would anticipate that this most fundamental and basic knowledge would be first and foremost in your mind.
You don’t have to be a man of religion to understand if you’re told not to do the thing, and you choose to do the thing, that doing the thing leads to repercussions. Or did Adam and Eve teach you nothing?
You know what the worst part is? You know exactly what you are doing. You’re trying to open the gates of Hell to LGBTIQ+ people here on earth.
We all know this is the big test case that conservatives have been begging for, and if they didn’t have a hand in directly orchestrating it, they are certainly being very opportunistic about it now. Because if you win, Israel, the bullying starts again, the vilifying starts again, you grant every man a license to hate. And slowly but surely, maybe not right at first, but eventually, the rollbacks of protections will start and LGBTIQ+ rights will be chipped away at until…who knows.
It’s a slippery slope, Israel.
Israel, you have made me so mad. But I can’t live in hate, it’s exhausting. You’ve aligned yourself with those who have made it their life’s work to haunt my community and attempt to tear it apart. And that I will not forget. But I will move on, and focus on the next job, and do the one thing you can’t do right now – play some rugby.
Ultimately, Israel, this is a story we are all familiar with and one as old as time – we’ll just wait to see how many pieces of silver it eventually takes to make you completely and wholly betray the sport you claimed to love and that you publicly said you would sooner walk away from rather than cause damage to. Yet here we are, as you try to destroy the sport that gave you everything – including a second chance. Not even Adam and Eve got that.
I guess, really, we’re not negotiating what you are, we’re just negotiating the price.
Isn’t that right, Judas. I mean, Israel. Whatever.
There but for the grace of God go I. See you in Hell, mate.