Israel Folau cries while delivering an Easter sermon on the reaction to his belief that homosexuals should go to hell.
Israel Folau cries while delivering an Easter sermon on the reaction to his belief that homosexuals should go to hell.

Hypocrisy laid bare as Folau breaks down

Video has emerged of Israel Folau fighting back tears while delivering a sermon at his church on Easter Sunday as he prepares for a showdown with Rugby Australia to decide his playing future.

The Wallabies star faces a code of conduct hearing on Saturday to determine whether his $4 million contract will be torn up in the wake of his social media post that said gay people will go to hell unless they repent for their "sins".

Many of Folau's Australian and NSW Waratahs teammates have spoken of their frustration with the superstar back for dragging them through this ugly mess, and the toll the affair has taken on him since it erupted last month was clear during an emotional address to fellow churchgoers.

In the video, first revealed by The Daily Telegraph and shown on Channel 9 breakfast TV program The Today Show on Friday morning, Folau spoke about how to deal with situations when an employer challenges your religious beliefs and referred to a bible passage about three men standing up for their beliefs even under the threat of death.

"At some stage, each and every one of us will face our own fiery furnace, and some of us may have already faced that," Folau said at Sydney's Truth Of Jesus Christ Church.

"In your workforce, if they're telling you something that will compromise your faith, this is a test of faith in which you're going to be put in a challenge, and the question is, 'What are you going to do?'

"With these guys, they were challenged and it was a matter of life and death, physical death. But they understood their treasures were stored up in heaven, not here on earth.

"As the scriptures say, don't set your mind on things below, but set it on things above.

"We all know as born again believers in Christ, that everything we have here is all temporary.

"And it says in the word, 'For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?'"

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The emotional toll of this saga has taken its toll on Folau.
The emotional toll of this saga has taken its toll on Folau.

Folau choked up as he struggled to continue and at one point during his sermon another churchgoer handed him a tissue while he wiped away tears.

The dual international said believers in Christ are going to be "hated" and "persecuted" by the world but stressed the importance of faith.

"This life that we live in is pretty hard," Folau said. "The God of this world, Satan, has deceived many. But the one that lives inside us is all powerful. He can deliver us from anything.

"I encourage us all to store our treasures up in heaven, where it all counts.

"Just because we're believers in Christ, does not mean we're not prone to the temptation or challenges that we're going through.

"There's nothing special that would keep us from that - in actual fact, we probably go through more challenges than anything else.

"We're going to be hated by the world, persecuted by the world."

FOLAU'S HYPOCRISY LAID BARE

Speaking about Folau on The Today Show, editor-in-chief of Stellar magazine and News Corp columnist Sarrah Le Marquand called out Folau's double standards in asking for compassion but showing none of it himself.

"He's not being fired because he's a devout Christian or because of his religious beliefs, he's being fired because he's a bigot and because he vilified certain sections of the community," Le Marquand said.

"His words there, to me, are it's all about him, he's feeling persecuted, he's asking for empathy and compassion. Where was that empathy and compassion that he failed to show to his fellow Australians?

"Being religious is not synonymous with spreading hatred."

Popular media personality and host of 2GB radio's drivetime show Sydney Live Ben Fordham also weighed in, saying Folau has gone back on his word and deserves to face the consequences.

"He'd given his word a year ago that he wouldn't do this again," Fordham said.

"I'm sorry but he's a footy player. I don't mean to boil it down so bluntly but he's a footy player and if your religion's more important than your sport then go and become a minister in the church.

"He's clearly passionate about his religion and I respect him for that but … Israel Folau gave his word to Rugby Australia that he wouldn't do this again.

"I had the father of a gay man call me yesterday on air and said … what about the rate of suicide amongst gay people? What does he say to that young man?

"Izzy's got to take some responsibility here."

Folau has received support from the Pacific Island community.
Folau has received support from the Pacific Island community.

STARS DIVIDED OVER SAGA

While Aussie rugby stars like Michael Hooper, Will Genia and Bernard Foley and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika have all expressed their disappointment in Folau, he has received support from the Pacific Island community.

Wallabies centre and Queensland Reds skipper Samu Kerevi was keen to restore calm on Thursday after a furore sparked when his Reds and Wallabies teammate Taniela Tupou leapt to his support on social media.

Tupou had declared: "Seriously, might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs".

Tupou's post came after Kerevi had felt compelled to explain himself for thanking "the heavenly father" in a television interview following the Reds' Super Rugby win over the Sharks in Durban.

Kerevi was one of several athletes to "like" Folau's post claiming hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators" unless they repent and turn to Jesus Christ.

Kerevi on Thursday insisted he felt supported and comfortable but wouldn't say whether he regretted liking the post, or if he had been spoken to by the governing body since.

"People can come up to me personally and talk about my faith and beliefs and I'll stand by it, every day of the week," he said. "One hundred per cent (I'm comfortable expressing myself), I'll do it this weekend, I'll do it every weekend … that's who I am and footy is what I do."

On Saturday Folau will face a three-person code of conduct panel chaired by Sydney lawyer John West. The panel also includes Rugby Australia representative Kate Eastman and Rugby Union Players Association representative John Boultbee.

Justin Gleeson, the former solicitor-general of Australia, will be Rugby Australia's counsel at the hearing.

An extra day has been set aside in case the hearing has to go into Sunday. "The panel will consider submissions and evidence from both parties at the hearing, but is not expected to deliver a decision on the weekend," Rugby Australia said in a statement late Thursday.

With AAP



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