Australian rugby star Isreal Folau has reached a financial settlement with his former employer after his contract was terminated over an Instagram post with a biblical message.
Folau argued his termination was an example of religious discrimination and initially filed a lawsuit against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW for nearly $10 million, but raised the amount to $14 million last week, according to The Guardian.
After months of legal battle, Rugby Australia, Rugby NSW and Folau released a joint statement on Wednesday saying that they had come to an undisclosed agreement including apologies from both parties.
The Instagram post at the center of the controversy was posted on April 10 and paraphrased 1 Corinthians 6:9.
“WARNING,” the post read. “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES.”
The former Wallabies player commented with three other bible verses as well.
View this post on Instagram
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. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
His playing contract was terminated only a few weeks later, just ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Rugby Australia claimed Folau “had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract” by sharing the post, according to Faith Wire.
The organization also said that it had warned him of posting offensive content on social media.
Folau, however, doesn’t view his post as offensive. He wrote on his website that he views sharing truths from the Bible as “an act of love and compassion.”
“My faith defines me as a person. I do not believe that it is fair or right that I be punished for my religious beliefs,” he continued.
“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.”
After months of public dispute, the parties agreed upon an undisclosed financial settlement and released a joint statement on Wednesday.
“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity,” the statement said, according to The Guardian.
The statement also said that the April post reflected Folau’s “genuinely held religious beliefs” and that he didn’t intend any harm or offense.
Rubgy Australia also apologized to Folau and his family.
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus,” the statement said.
“Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”
Folau later shared a video on his website where he said he felt “vindicated” after reaching an agreement with his former employers.
“We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today,” he said.“With today’s acknowledgment and apology by Rugby Australia we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family.”
He thanked God for his “guidance and strength” and thanked supporters “for their thoughts and prayers.”
“We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion,” Folau concluded.
“We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians.”
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