Folau roasted for $3 million public plea
UPDATE: Israel Folau has been savagely roasted on social media over his controversial public plea for $3 million in donations.
On a busy morning for the sacked former Wallabies star, Folau gave his first interview since being kicked out of Australian rugby just hours after launching a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his legal fees.
Folau has asked for supporters to help raise $3 million to fight his upcoming employment termination case against Rugby Australia in the Supreme Court.
He said on Friday morning he and wife Maria have already exhausted more than $100,000 in legal costs to get his case to this point - and the legal costs are expected to rise above $1 million should the case progress to the Supreme Court.
The former Wallabies star was sacked for a homophobic social media post earlier this year
and had his $5 million contract torn up after being found guilty of a code of conduct breach.
Having taken his termination case to the Fair Work Commission, Folau will meet with Rugby Australia officials next week to further discuss a possible resolution that would stop the matter heading to court.
In the first three hours after Folau first promoted his Crowd Sourcing campaign page, the cause had received more than $200,000 in public donations and was the most visited page on the GoFundMe site in Australia.
Folau has stressed his decision to pursue Rugby Australia in further legal action is motivated purely by his Christian principles and is not about money.
However, his public plea for millions, despite having amassed more than $10 million in salary payments alone during his career in the NRL, AFL and rugby, left many Australian fans and commentators with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Folau was roasted on Twitter, where his first tweet promoting his GoFundMe campaign received more than 500 responses in the first three hours.
EARLIER: Israel Folau has started a GoFundMe page asking the public for $3 million to help his legal fight against Rugby Australia (RA) after the Wallabies star was sacked for a homophobic social media post.
Folau had his $5 million contract torn up after being found guilty of a code of conduct breach when he uploaded a graphic on Instagram claiming "hell awaits" gay people unless they repent for their sins.
But he believes he was wrongfully terminated and has pledged to take legal action against his former employer.
In a video uploaded to YouTube on Thursday night, Folau said he and wife Maria have already spent upwards of $100,000 in legal fees, and asked for financial help to continue his battle against Rugby Australia.
"I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word. Rugby Australia tore up my employment contract for doing just that, and that's wrong," Folau said in his video.
"Every Australian should be able to practice their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace.
"Rugby Australia has an army of lawyers at their disposal and they have already said they will divert significant resources to fight me in court. The cost to me and my family of continuing my legal action against Rugby Australia is expected to be significant.
"Since my contract was terminated I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support received from family, friends, fans and the public. Even people who don't share my beliefs have defended my right to uphold and express them.
"They made me realise I'm not just fighting for my future and my family; I'm fighting for what is right. But I can't do it alone."
At the end of his clip, Folau directs people who want to donate to a GoFundMe page. At the time of writing, he had raised $330 of his $3 million goal.
"My faith is the most important thing in my life. I try to live my life according to the Bible and I believe it is my duty to share the word of the Bible," Folau wrote on his page.
"I believe that sharing the Bible is an act of love and compassion.
"I know some people do not like or believe in the Bible. Indeed, what makes our country so wonderful is that we have such a diverse community made up of so many different cultures and values. But 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.
"I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.
"I know I am putting myself on the line - this action will be very costly in terms of time, money and reputation - but I do not intend to stop now.
"I would be very grateful for your support. Could you make a donation, within your capacity to give, in order to support my action? I have the fight of my life on my hands and every little bit will help."
The latest development in the Folau saga comes after a video of the dual international doubling down on his anti-gay stance in a church sermon emerged online.
Footage of Folau's speech was uploaded to The Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney Facebook page on Sunday and showed him criticising churches for allowing same-sex marriage.
Speaking to his congregation, Folau said homosexuality was a "sin" and the result of trying to please man rather than God.
He also told an anecdote about a politician at a Christian function speaking about what "the parliament is trying to instil into the government going forward".
"A lot of the points are, he's talking about how the work of the sin, homosexuality, is in disguise to try and take over within this world," Folau said.
"You see a lot of things in today's news and everything. They're allowing young kids in primary school to be able to have the permission to change their gender if they want by taking away the permission of their parents.
"Now they're trying to take control as a government to make that decision for kids that are basically 16-years-old or younger. They don't even know what they're doing.
"This is what the devil's trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into this society and it's slowly happening."
Folau criticised some churches for accepting gay marriage and called on his fellow Christians to stand up for God's teachings.
"The sad thing is while a lot of people out there who are non-Christians say bad things about the church, a lot of churches today allow those things to happen," Folau said.
"They say that a man and a man should be allowed to get married and there's nothing wrong with that. This ties into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth.
"If there's ever a time to stand up for the word of God, now is the time."