Religious Freedom and Israel Folau

Early morning this Easter Sunday, bombs exploded in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing hundreds of people, most of them Christians. I am a Christian from Sri Lanka. My people lost lives and limbs and family members.

When I first heard that those bombings were done by jihadist Muslims, I was really surprised. There’s never been any violence between Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka before. When I was in school in Sri Lanka, my best friend was Muslim.

Then I got it. These jihadists targeted churches and hotels because to them, Christianity represents Western wealth and sexual permissiveness. It didn’t matter that those Christians were fellow Sri Lankans. It didn’t matter that most Sri Lankan Christians are relatively poor and humble. To those jihadists, Christians represent Western wealthy decadence, and therefore deserved to die.

So you can imagine how I hit the roof when Claire Harvey, deputy editor of the Sunday Telegraph,  used her ‘white privilege’ to push exactly that kind of fashionable Western sexual permissiveness, in the name of so-called Christianity. Here is part of what she wrote on June 29:

Here’s the truth: I’m more of a Christian than Israel Folau is. I’m more of a Christian than anyone at the Australian Christian Lobby — and I don’t even go to church.

I say you professional Christians are all fakes and phonies, and you’re riding out the last pathetic wave of bigotry because you know deep down that if you said what you truly think about gay people you’d be sacked, too.

I’m sorry, Ms Harvey, you’re completely out of touch. It’s not the white, privileged middle-class who are supporting Folau. It’s migrants like me, who believe that there is an order, a pattern, to our sexuality, which is created by God, and discernible by science.

We believe that kind of ordered sexuality is good for individuals, families, and society in general. That’s where conservative views of sexuality come from. We love everyone. We want everyone to live well. So we talk about what we think is good for everyone.

Conservative religious views on sexuality are now officially in the minority. The same-sex marriage plebiscite showed us that. That’s okay. We’ll live with that reality. As a minority, we need to speak in a gracious way that admits that most people disagree with us. Lots of Christian leaders, myself included, have said Folau should have communicated better. In Folau’s Instagram post, hell was in bigger font than Jesus. It should be the other way around. Jesus always needs to be loudest and most central. If we’re convinced that Jesus is good, then what he says about sex makes sense.

This is why religious freedom is important. If Australia really wants to be a free society, it will protect the ability of religious minorities to talk publicly about why we believe our religion is good – especially when that religion contradicts what’s publicly fashionable.

So, Ms Harvey – now that conservative religious people like me are a minority, are you, as a senior journalist, going to protect our right to speak and live according to our beliefs? Or are you going to use your power to insult us, using fear-mongering epithets like “homophobe” to bully us now that we’re down?

And, as a senior journalist, you know perfectly well how news spreads in today’s globalised, inter-connected world. You are of course welcome to believe anything you want. But please stop preaching that you represent Christianity, because you don’t. Your fashionable Western so-called Christianity is going to reinforce the kind of anti-Christian prejudice that gets real Christians killed.

Kamal Weerakoon is the 2018-19 Moderator of the NSW Presbyterian Church

11 thoughts on “Religious Freedom and Israel Folau


    John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”.
    Israel Folau faithfully preached the gospel. For that he is being persecuted. True Christianity! Christianity via the narrow gate. (Luke 13:23-24)

  • Peter Smith says:

    I am glad someone wrote this. I have caught a couple of Claire Harvey pieces on Folau. Her ignorance of Christianity makes you weep. She believes that she is a Christian even though she doesn’t necessarily believe in the life, death and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ or, by extension, that he is the son of god. She just believes in being good and forgiving. That’s fine so far as it goes. But that doesn’t make her a Christian. And as we who are Christians know we don’t have unbridled licence to follow our inclinations.

  • Bill Martin says:

    While agreeing wholeheartedly and enthusiastically with Kamal Weerakoon’s sentiments, I am most disappointed in him for using that clichéd “progressive” term “white privilege”. I’d like to think it was a mere “slip of the pen” and not the indication of how he regards his white fellow human beings, i.e. incorrigible oppressors of all other races.

  • Matt says:

    I would argue that promotion of ‘religious freedom’ is not actually a Christian mandate or desirable objective per se. Some people’s religion admonishes them to ‘kill Christians and Jews wherever they may be found’. Evidently this is what was being acted out at Easter. Should such people be granted ‘religious freedom’? I don’t think so.

    What we need is this: Freedom to promote Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.

    Exclusive? Yes. Special privileges and protections, particularly for Jews but also for Christians? Yes. Should other religions be accorded the same rights, privileges and protections? No. If a religion teaches violence and violence is regularly practiced by adherents expressly in the name of that religion then the promotion of it should, and in fact must, be circumscribed.
    We can be sure that laws ‘protecting religious freedoms’ will be contrived and used as a weapon to further persecute Jews and Christians. We don’t need more laws. What we need is the removal of laws that are used as weapons and shields to attack the promotion of Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.
    And yes, please don’t use racist slurs.

  • cassandra_l_law says:

    Claire Harvey’s specious drivel is why I cancelled by Telegraph subscription last week…never to be renewed.

  • PT says:

    I look forward to Claire Harvey after the next Islamist outrage declaring she’s a better Muslim than any of them etc.

  • deric davidson says:

    Claire Harvey commits the grave sin of pride. ” I’m better than you because I’m caring, kind and generous, you are not”. This is Pharisee stuff condemned by Jesus Christ. To be Christian she first has to believe in and love God and the Son of God Jesus Christ – the first part of the First Commandment. The Christian virtue of loving ones neighbor then follows. To be truly Christian one must ascribe to both parts of the First Commandment. Harvey obviously does not.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    Bacteria invented sex two billion years ago. Conjugation in bacteria takes 45 minutes. The male gives all his genes to the female ans then dies [a bit like red back spiders]. The female looks at her double set of genes, keeps the best single set, and discards the rest. She is no longer a female but the founding member of a new clone, which will eventually age and die to be possibly replaced by a new sex generated clone. [In humans we call this a family]. There are no homosexual bacteria.

  • guilfoyle says:

    I am in agreement with Matt, – religious freedom legislation will be used to attack Judeo-Christian beliefs and a faux ‘equality‘ will be imposed to negate Christian authority by equating it with an ideology that is antithetical to our morality and totally committed to the extinction of Christianity. If we import people who subscribe to genital mutilation, forced marriage, the killing of apostates and non-believers, and we also continue to subscribe to a faux notion of ‘equality ‘ and ‘non-discrimination ‘ then religious freedom legislation must necessarily be used to defend actions that cut across our morality. The issue is that the threat of an ideology that contradicts our values must be honestly addressed and the foundation of our society as Christian must be clearly understood and conveyed by those who have positions of power. The power of the ‘woke’ has been shown to be a chimera by the last election (as well as by the falling readership numbers of the various newspapers and viewer numbers of our favourite broadcaster).

  • Multi Gaz says:

    Firstly, T B Lynch, I am not sure where you get you information from, but from where I come from (i.e. Earth), bacteria reproduce by cell division, not “conjugation” (Do you even know what that word means? Since when did grammar have anything to do with biology?) or any form of reproduction. There is no such thing as female and male bacteria. Cell division is essentially mitosis – the parent divides into two genetically identical daughter cells. Your blather is as incorrect as it is irrelevant to the conversation.

    Secondly, Kamal suggests that the font size of “Jesus” should have been larger than “hell”. I understand the sentiment, but the reality is that until we know that in our fallen state we under God’s wrath, we can not know the necessity of receiving Christ Jesus as our saviour. Proverbs 9:10 says “The beginning of wisdom is to fear God…” Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven. Understanding the threat of hell is essential to understanding our need for Jesus.

    Israel Folau’s Instagram post was scripturally accurate in every way. Despite the attempts of God’s enemies to persecute Israel, as other Christians are persecuted (think of Margaret Court), God’s plans will not be thwarted. There has been more Gospel shared across the airwaves in recent months than in the last 10 years combined. Israel Folau will be honoured before God, despite being dishonoured by sinful men. We could all learn from his example of courage and humility.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    Bacterial conjugation was discovered by Lederberg and Tatum in 1946. By making the male radioactive, they showed by timed interruption, that conjugation took 45 minutes to completion [how long does Multi Gaz take?].
    The founding member of a new bacterial clone then divides by fission [not mitosis], until the clone becomes senile and dies out.
    In humans the founding member of a new human clone is called a zygote and divides by mitosis to a maximum of 50 divisions, until becoming senile and dying [Hayflick 1960].
    Now in both the human and the bacterial case, one in a billion cells becomes a germ cell, and hence available for sexual conjugation, with the founding of a new clone.
    Humans are indeed clones that walk and talk. I once diagnosed a boy with two fathers, he was a mixture of two clones which collided in the mothers womb, mixed, and formed one boy. Old humans are mostly mixtures of many degenerate though still benign clones. These old clones carry an increased risk of becoming malignant = cancer.
    There, I have cast pearls before swine, or fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

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