The CEO of Rugby Australia has admitted that she closely monitored star player Israel Folau on social media after he started posting openly about his faith.
In transcripts obtained by Australian newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, Raelene Castle was asked very plainly about whether or not her organization was keeping tabs on Folau’s social media channels to see if he was violating any terms of his contract.
“Following the 2018 post, did Rugby Australia commence to monitor his social media use more closely?” Folau’s lawyer quizzed the sports executive.
“Yes, we did,” Castle answered.
“And did you yourself personally monitor his social media use from that point on?” the lawyer continued. “No, I’ve got people that kindly do that for me,” Castle replied.
Castle previously stated that Folau had committed “serious breaches of the Professional Players Code of Conduct” through his uploading of a graphic which paraphrased a Biblical passage from 1 Corinthians.
In May, Folau had his multi-million dollar contract torn up after posting an Instagram graphic which paraphrased 1 Corinthians 6:9 and called on a list of people, including homosexuals, to repent. Now, however, far from it being an issue of stern wording, it appears Rugby Australia would have taken issue with a segment of the Bible being posted to social media in physical form, word-for-word.
Journalist Miranda Devine obtained the very telling transcript from Folau’s code of conduct meeting in May.
“What about when the Bible requires him to tell the good and the bad, that is, that the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear?” Folau’s representative asked the sporting executive. “The Bible is not the contract that he signed with Rugby Australia,” Castle answered.
Then, the chairman of the hearing asked a very simple question of Castle to test her propensity towards discriminating on religious grounds.
“Ms Castle, what if Mr Folau had photocopied passages from the Bible and simply posted that on his social media pages, would that have caused a problem for you?” they asked.
“I think it depends on which ones he – which pages he photocopied,” she replied.
“If he photocopied the passages that are referred to in the posts, would that have caused a problem for you?” the chairman continued.
“Yes, it would have,” Castle replied.
Many have suggested that Folau could have kept his job if he deleted the words “Warning” and “Hell, from his original Instagram post — terms that are not included in the Biblical text.
This new revelation, however, shows that Folau would have been in hot water with Rugby Australia even if he had copied the text verbatim.
“Having unilaterally condemned the foundational document of Judaeo-Christian civilization as akin to hate speech, she [Castle] boasted in a press conference that her decision was a “landmark” which “will change the landscape for rugby and sport,’” Devine wrote. “There’s one person who should have been sacked, and it wasn’t Folau.”
New religious freedom laws
In a series of bizarre comments made Monday, former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that newly proposed religious freedom laws should allow people like Folau to express their opinions, even if they are “utterly dopey,” as he put it.
“I think a lot of what Israel Folau said is just completely and utterly dopey. But it’s his right to be dopey,” the politician eloquently explained, as reported by NewsHub. “We can’t just go around sacking [people] because they’re annoying.”
On Friday, Australia’s Attorney General briefed more than 20 MP’s on the newly tabled anti-discrimination bill, which he said “provides an avenue for people who think a rule in their employment has unfairly disadvantaged them or led to their termination unfairly because of their religion.”
“It goes a long way to protect people from being discriminated against in the context of their employment,” he added, according to the Guardian.
Folau is likely to take his religious discrimination case to federal court after failing to come to an agreed settlement with his former employer, Rugby Australia.