TUMBY BAY - The appalling decision by the politically correct pedants at Rugby Australia to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for the apparently heinous offence of posting a comment on his religious beliefs has set a very dangerous precedent.
I’m not particularly inclined to get excited about grown men chasing a leather ball around a paddock nor am I inclined to believe in supreme beings but I am inclined to believe that people like Israel Folau have a perfect right to say what they believe without fear of persecution.
What he said is what he believes. He was born in New South Wales of Tongan parents. As a Pacific Islander his profound religious beliefs come as no surprise.
That he felt the need to warn people who are different to him of the imputed biblical consequences of those differences, irrelevant as that may be, is also not particularly unusual.
As readers of PNG Attitude know, people in the Pacific take their religious beliefs seriously.
One might also go so far as to observe that Christianity in the Pacific has its own idiosyncrasies as a result of its cultural origins.
One shouldn’t generalise but for a people versed in traditional spiritualism like Melanesian mana that gives rise to the belief that the world is inhabited or animated by an impersonal force which may manifest itself both in living things and non-living objects Christianity, with all its improbabilities is a perfect fit.
This contrasts quite markedly with the situation in the west following the so-called Age of Enlightenment which emphasised reason and individualism rather than tradition and saw the growth of secularism.
Despite what the missionaries intended, if you mix mana with Christianity you are going to get quite a different result to mixing Christianity with enlightenment.
I think this goes some way towards explaining the power of Israel Folau’s beliefs and his concerns for those who are different to him.
Unlike Rugby Australia he has not sought to persecute those people. All he has done is issue a heartfelt, albeit misdirected, warning to those people.
He has not, as Rugby Australia has done, set a dangerous precedent about religious freedom or the expression of free speech.
This precedent will reverberate within all sporting codes but it will also go beyond those codes into the general populace.
Christian people of all persuasions already feel under siege from secularism but will now feel further pressures.
Christians with Melanesian or Pacific Island origins will now think twice about publicly discussing their beliefs.
Rugby is a national sport in many Pacific Island nations. Such reverberations will no doubt occur in those countries, including Papua New Guinea.
Even as an atheist this concerns me greatly.
Hopefully Israel Folau’s appeal against this ridiculous decision will succeed and common sense will prevail.