COMMENT:

I have a soft spot for Sir Michael Jones. Always will have.

Over the years we have met on a number of occasions. He has always impressed me with his quiet, unassuming and dignified manner.

He is a Christian too, and lives by his faith. I think the whole of New Zealand knows that.

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As an All Black, playing in the 1980s and 1990s, he refused to play rugby on Sundays.

That was non-negotiable with him. All Black coach John Hart called him "almost the perfect rugby player". Jones is the type of Christian I admire.

His daily life reflects his Christian beliefs. He doesn't knock anyone else because they might not be Christian or that they may come up short in this area, not make the Christian cut.

I can't ever recall him making derogatory remarks about any person or groups of people.
No matter their background, lifestyle or behaviour.

He walks his Christian faith daily, demonstrated by the love and care he shows towards others.

Sir Michael Jones. Photo / File
Sir Michael Jones. Photo / File

That's why I can't understand Christians who feel the need to denounce those who think and live different lives to them. Christians who point the finger. People like that give Christianity a bad name.

Australian Wallabies rugby player Israel Folau is, in my view, one of those.

Like Jones, he is a Christian too and wants everyone to know it.

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But Folau is judgmental as well.

He made a controversial and homophobic social media post on Instagram on April 10, saying "those that are 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."

In the post, he targeted "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators" warning "Hell awaits you."

It is not the first time he has made such a controversial post.

In my opinion, he is a nasty, self-righteous man.

Rugby Australia has said it will terminate his contract and a Code of Conduct hearing is to be held on May 4.

Sport Australia boss Kate Palmer said: "Discrimination is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in any sport or recreation environment, at whatever level.

"As a sporting industry, we must stand together and call out against any form of discrimination whether it is based on sexuality, race, gender or disability," she added.

Folau probably doesn't regret what he said. Holier-than-thou people are hard to budge.

They're always right, always wise. But now that his job is at stake perhaps he'll think first about the consequences of what he espouses before feeling compelled to speak out.

We can't say we are an inclusive society that values diversity and the dignity of every individual human being if we allow hatred and condemnation to go unchallenged.

Freedom of speech is to be protected at all costs.

But freedom to speak hatred about people who have often had to live in the shadows to avoid the very hatred Folau spouts is no longer acceptable.

The weekend just been was Easter. For Christians it is a special time. Jesus, the son of God, died on the cross at Calvary, taking upon himself the sins of the world.

I don't know if God prioritised some or excluded others, then and now. But I do know God is love, peace and understanding.

Let Him sit in judgment on others when their time comes. He doesn't need any help — particularly from those who have the audacity to want to help him make up his mind.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a Rotorua district councillor, Lakes District Health Board member and chairs the North Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart political correctness