Well, it's time to further dissect the Israel Folau "go-to-hell" — no sugar required, thanks — message that many seem to be dry heaving on.

Scribes globally have labelled Folau as "prehistoric", a "pillock", "bigot", "homophobic", "plonker" — to name a few nouns among other colourful ones — since he posted his Instagram "warning":

"Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators — Hell awaits you."

Repent. Only Jesus saves, it concludes.


The Wallaby discard's post attracted more than 50,000 "likes" from his more than 350,000 followers.

And no, neither is it stale news nor is it time to move on because religion never does — people do.

The very essence of religion is fractious in the sense that even scholars fail to agree on what its definition should be.

Needless to say, the ostracised elite rugby player has mutated into a prince of darkness in the eyes of some for spreading the gospel. Dare I say it, if it was the 15th century he would have been burned at the stake.

But you can't help feel the utility back, who has scored the most Super Rugby tries for an Australian franchise team, has evolved into a heretic in the 21st century.

Yes, you read that right. Folau has been caught in the illegal act of shepherding, as it were, apparently leaving even his teammates incensed from club level to the NSW Waratahs to the Wallabies.

It appears the 30-year-old's "rants" are strongly at odds with established beliefs or customs of what is now a strain of contemporary Christianity — a doctrine that preaches more tolerance and flexibility in how "the Word" should be interpreted.

Put another way, the New Testament, an upgrade on the Old Testament, is undergoing a renaissance that Folau hasn't quite grasped during rugby training. Actually I'll go as far as to say he isn't going to grasp the schism at all.


Unrepentant, Folau told media the public outcry to his interpretation of the Bible hadn't thrown him off his crusade.

"Absolutely not," he told Agence France-Presse, as he prepares to appeal in a bid to reverse Australia Rugby Union's decision to fire him. "I'll stand on what the Bible says. I share it with love. I can see the other side of the coin where people's reactions are the total opposite to how I'm sharing it."

For the record, the code hopper, who will probably land a lucrative offer to continue his career in Europe or Japan, has been quoting chapters and verses for a few years.

"That's the message that I'm trying to share, even though it comes across as harsh. I can't change what the word of god says," he had told AFP.

To understand Folau — I'm assuming that's what most liberal people are trying to do — requires firstly to comprehend his roots.

Born in Minton, NSW, he is the son of Tongan parents who were devout Mormons but, reportedly, Folau has been a member of the Assemblies of God since 2011.


Just as a rash of rugby union and rugby league players have switched allegiances from Australia and New Zealand to represent the Pacific Island nations where their parents were born, Folau has remained faithful to his religion as he would to his filial piety.

Israel Folau isn't the first player of Pacific Islander heritage to take on the sporting world in the name of God and he certainly isn't going to be the last. Photo/Photosport
Israel Folau isn't the first player of Pacific Islander heritage to take on the sporting world in the name of God and he certainly isn't going to be the last. Photo/Photosport

Culture and Christianity are intertwined in the islands. It's god and family that dictate the mores of society.

When the missionaries carried out mass conversions in the Pacific Islands, they didn't just alienate the indigenous people from their shark and snake gods but also entrenched Christianity, dogmatically, through shame.

Consequently it's quite common for some islanders to, arbitrarily, break the 10 Commandments in the belief that god will always forgive them, even when it comes to murder.

For example, military leader Sitiveni Rabuka engineered the May 14, 1987, and subsequent coups in Fiji from the pulpit of the Methodist Church in his capacity as a lay preacher before "asking for forgiveness".

In some respects, Pacific Islanders are fundamentalists and more potent because of their sense of communal existence.


Rugby, or sport for that matter, is an integral part of the Pacific Island tapestry that can fray easily when juxtaposed with Western values.

Folau is simply a disciple of that Bible-bashing movement that struggles to identify with grey patches in the black-and-white spectrum of religion. His timing appears to be premeditated from an athlete who has graduated with high honours in three different codes.

England rugby union international Billy Vunipola "liked" Folau's remarks before doing a U-turn to ensure he still receives a pay cheque despite the boos, jeers and a pitch invader confronting him last weekend.

"I'm not going to change the happy-go-lucky person I am. My faith is what got me to this position. It's something I'll stick by," the Tongan told BT Sport.

You see, you know where Folau stands but do you really know where the silent majority, even outside the Pacific Island circles, will be when the barbed wire becomes too uncomfortable to sit on?

Wife and Silver Ferns netballer Maria Folau will stand by her man to the end of the
Wife and Silver Ferns netballer Maria Folau will stand by her man to the end of the "go-to-hell" stance against the sinners of this world. Photo/Photosport

Any suggestions his wife and Silver Ferns netballer, Maria Folau, will find it difficult to hold her head high alongside other bib wearers is nonsense. Mrs Folau's faith prepares her for such reprisals and the gospel, according to Pacific Island nations, will say "Amen" to that.


Throwing the Folaus and Vunipolas of today into the lion's den isn't the solution either.

Is it Christianity's show of inclusiveness or is it a reflection of how disenfranchised its followers are from a faith they have taken for granted because it's enshrined in some countries' constitution?

Indubitably it is time to revisit and redefine the rules of engagement in the fundamental principles of Christianity, which seems to have lost touch with its, arguably, most ardent followers.

It won't be easy for Folau considering the head of Wallabies' naming sponsor, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, is reportedly an "openly gay Irishman". Neither will it be easy for Christianity to establish a politically correct order to satisfy the entire flock.

It'll be akin to missionaries teaching scantily-clad islanders the value of modesty, only to discover the converts, decades later, find bikini-clad tourists a blotch on their beautiful beaches.