Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Anti-LGBTQ group claims rugby player sacked for condemning gays to hell is the victim

Isreal Folau
On Wednesday, the hate group Family Research Council claimed that the "religious liberty" of athletes should is under attack:

In today's hyper-politicized climate, it seems that nothing can escape the relentless black hole of "woke" political correctness, not even sports. In a Speaker Series event at FRC, Dr. Jennifer Bryson gave example after example of how the LGBT agenda has strong-armed its way into sports, particularly soccer, where rainbow flags are featured on the jerseys of the U.S. men's and women's national teams, on team captain armbands, on shoelaces, and even on the ground where players are required to walk.  
 Are the athletes who make sports possible allowed to object to their jobs and religious beliefs being co-opted by a political cause? Nope. Just ask Jaelene Hinkle, who faced immense harassment after declining to wear an LGBT-themed jersey for the U.S. national team. Or Josip Brekalo, who was required to wear a rainbow-themed arm band as a team captain, but declined to. Or Isreal Folau, who was sacked by both the Australian national rugby team and his professional team for expressing his religious beliefs on Instagram.

Let's focus on one of their examples - the case of Isreal Folau. Below is the Instagram post he sent which got him into trouble.

As FRC related, he was dismissed for not only this but other past incidents of him making homophobic remarks.  He is now not only suing Rugby Australia but continuing to make homophobic remarks, such as claiming that Satan is behind transgender children.

These reasons are why his case is a bit more problematic to defend. Folau is talking about people. This isn't a case where someone is encroaching on his beliefs to believe. It is rather someone taking him to task for attacking groups of people. The first two examples FRC listed involve possible encroaching on someone's personal space (we don't know the entire story regarding those examples and FRC does have a history of playing loose with the truth for the sake of its narratives) in order to send a message their religion does not condone.

But in the case of Folau, this is someone sending out a message targeting a group of people. No one was forcing him to make a statement or take a position contrary to his beliefs.  But yet FRC - while careful not to detail what he said - claims that he is a victim of anti-religious discrimination. Would FRC feel that way if he had posted something which said Jewish people, Muslims, or people of other ethnicities are going to hell.

Doubtful. In fact, I doubt anyone would be attempting to defend his comments as expressions of  "religious freedom."

Folau's case underscores questions we are not asking about the concept of "religious liberty" as pushed by the conservative right and anti-LGBTQ industry. Other than supposedly protecting religious businesses, should it be used to protect people from the consequences of abusive speech? And if so, should it pertain to solely homophobic speech or would racist or even anti-Semitic speech be included ? And if not, then why?

I don't think FRC or anyone else on their side of the issue are willing to answer the question.

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