Rugby player Israel Folau shares evangelist’s anti-LGBT sermon

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Israel Folau of the Waratahs looks on during the round five Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on March 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Israel Folau, the professional Australian rugby player, has sparked outrage by sharing an evangelical preacher’s homophobic sermon.

Folau, who has played for his country’s national rugby union team, this morning insisted he had tweeted the speech by David Wilkerson from a place of “love” even though it claims we are living in a time of “sexual perversions beyond description.”

The sports star wrote: “With great love i [sic] wanted to share this video in the hope that people watch it and think about it.

“Jesus is coming back soon and he wants us to turn to him through repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38) please don’t harden your heart.”

One person responded to Folau’s comments, saying: “It takes a lot of balls to frame your hate as ‘love’.” (Getty)

After triggering backlash, today he responded to critics, writing: “Warning people of eternal punishment if they continue to live in their sin isn’t judgmental.

“It’s called love, i [sic] won’t apologise for believing and following the word of God. May God open your eyes to what a true believer is. God bless!”

In the 11-minute long sermon, Wilkerson says: “We are living in a time of unprecedented greed, rampant inequity, sexual perversions beyond description, and Jesus said in those times, in the beginning of sorrows, many hearts are going to grow cold. And he said they’re going to turn away.”

The comments are accompanied by footage of gay rights activists facing down anti-LGBT protesters holding homophobic placards. The video also contains graphic shots of a mouse being caught in a trap and people partying on a boat.

Related: Rugby star Israel Folau says ‘I’m not homophobic but gay people are sinful

As images of the White House flash on screen, Wilkerson says: “Now is the time to get right with God because this generation has lost the fear of God. There is no fear of God left in the land.”

Later he adds that society has become too tolerant, and criticises same-sex marriage.

Wilkerson, an American Christian evangelist, died in 2011. The video shared by Folau appears to have been produced by a third party and was published on YouTube last year.

Folau shared it yesterday with his 123,000 followers. Many responded angrily.

Mark Gottlieb, an Australian sports correspondent, wrote: “It takes a lot of balls to frame your hate as ‘love.'”

Last year, the rugby star said he would not support same-sex marriage (Getty)

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, the successful New Zealand rowers known as the Kiwi Pair, used their shared account to respond to the tweet simply with a face-palm emoji.

Folau, 29, is known for his homophobic views. Last month the fullback claimed gay people would go to hell unless they “repented,” and later stood by the comments despite a public backlash.

In September 2017, he posted on Twitter: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”