Folau is not what Christians should campaign on

Yesterday, Eternity ran an opinion piece supporting Israel Folau’s return to Rugby League football. Today, we feature views on a related issue – from Christians who believe that the Australian Christian Lobby should not be making Folau’s return a major campaign.

Stu Cameron 

I’ve never publicly weighed into the various controversies that from time to time surround the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and its messaging on various issues.

Right now the ACL is spearheading (and bankrolling) a campaign to get Israel Folau playing NRL again, including (very expensive) full page ads in newspapers today. Enough.

Such a campaign is tone deaf at best, an obscene, attention seeking waste of resources at worst. Since the beginning of March, five indigenous Australians have died in custody across our nation. Five. This despite a royal commission, numerous inquiries and various other interventions.

I would humbly suggest this is a FAR more relevant and pressing injustice that the gospel calls Christians to invest their energy and resources in advocating for, and partnering with others for real change. Real change that saves real lives.

If this isn’t a pressing enough issue for the ACL to directly address, I have other contemporary injustices that cause real suffering I’d be happy to put on their radar. All this to say, as my more progressive Christian friends will say from time to time, in this the ACL does not speak for me – a frail and fallible, socially conservative believer seeking to live out the gospel, including the teachings of Jesus, with integrity.

Stu Cameron is Superintendent Minister/CEO of Wesley Mission.

*Eternity assumes Cameron, and others quoted in this article, are speaking personally rather than officially. Position titles are given for information only.

Michael Frost

Of ALL the causes the Australian Christian Lobby could spend its time and money on, THIS is it?? Not Aboriginal reconciliation. Not deaths in custody. Not justice for women. Not action on climate change. Not advocacy for refugees. Not ending poverty. THIS?!

Michael Frost is the founding Director of the Tinsley Institute, at Morling College, Sydney.

Nils von Kalm

Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby recently said, “The more we are seen for who we really are, the more powerful our influence is going to be.”

Therein lies the problem with the ACL. Hence the misguided culture wars and the horribly misguided spending of tens of thousands of dollars on a newspaper ad to let a rugby player play again.

This is what you get with Christendom, the unholy and unChristian alliance of church and state. You turn inward when Jesus taught us to turn outward. You focus on your own rights when Jesus lived a life focused on love of others, no matter their background or lifestyle.

When Constantine sought and got power for the Church in the 4th Century, that’s when everything went pear-shaped.

True Christian faith speaks truth to power, like the prophets of the Old Testament, like Jesus, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and others like them. Seeking power is when the Church loses its edge.

True Christian faith marches on its knees. Jesus rode into town on a donkey. Martyn Iles seems to want to be Pontius Pilate who rode into the other side of town at the same time on a black stallion, signifying power and pomp. What Iles wants for Christianity is actually anti-Christian.

I don’t want his form of Christianity. I’m too much like that already. I want to change into Jesus-ness: humility, love, putting others first, lifting up the lowly, speaking truth to power.

Jesus sits in the gutter with the beggar, not in the palace in a place of power with the rulers and authorities. That’s the constant uncomfortable challenge we are faced with. God give us the strength to resist the temptation of power.

Nils von Kalm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne.

NOTE: There’s are two related issues popping up in this discussion. One is whether Folau should play football – which is really about whether he should be banned from playing for his comments on social media – and the other is whether Christians should make it a major campaign. People quoted in this round-up criticising the ACL campaign are not necessarily saying that Folau should be banned from the football field, only that the ACL might pick a better topic.