New Folau fund surges over $1 million in less than a day

Opportunity to donate gives ‘quiet Australians’ a voice

The new Israel Folau fund set up by the Australian Christian Lobby to assist with his religious freedom legal fees has reached $1 million less than a day after it was launched.

Even without the $100,000 boost given by ACL itself, the new fund has raised almost double what Folau’s GoFundMe site did in the same time period, giving little doubt that the full $3 million Folau is asking for will be met.

Fundraising site GoFundMe pulled Folau’s donation page yesterday, saying the campaign violated its terms of service.

“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity. While we welcome GoFundMe engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” said Nicola Britton, GoFundMe’s Australia Regional Manager.

Loud, intolerant voices swamp the quiet faith of many. – Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies

But the decision by GoFundMe has served to further galvanise Folau’s supporters, cementing his underdog status. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies spoke out today saying, “the way in which Folau’s motives have been impugned and his avenues of support have been cut off smacks of a new and ugly Australia where dissent from narrow cultural views is not tolerated.”

“The clear support of ordinary Christians has been ignored, marginalised and silenced,” Davies wrote in a public statement. “Many commentators (and many politicians) have failed to understand the precious nature of conscience and belief and its power in the lives of ordinary Australians. Loud, intolerant voices swamp the quiet faith of many. But I pray that what Israel Folau is going through may shine a light on an issue which is vital to our democracy and of crucial importance for Christians – freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to live according to our faith.”

Davies has been joined by NSW Presbyterian Moderator (leader) Kamal Weerakoon who says “Those involved in the relentless attacks on Mr Folau – including politicians, big business, and the media – should consider the impact such censorship has on public speech generally. Heavy-handed censorship never actually stifles dissent. It only drives such dissent underground and makes people angry that they are being disrespected. That kind of suppressed anger is not good for any community.”

Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles has become the main spokesperson for Folau. ACL told Eternity before the federal election that religious freedom would need a kickstart to get it back on the agenda for politicians, and the Folau controversy is certainly such an event. Launching the new fund on the ACL website, Iles said “There is an outpouring of support for Israel Folau from the Australian community, who see Israel’s case as their case … the success of the Folau fundraiser was giving ‘quiet Australians’ a voice.”