Disgraced rugby star Israel Folau claims horrific Australian bushfires are ‘God’s judgement’ for same-sex marriage

Disgraced rugby star Israel Folau is facing a storm of criticism for claiming the horrific Australian bushfires are “God’s judgement” for legalising gay marriage.

Australia is currently in a state of emergency as massive bushfires ravage New South Wales and Queensland for a second week. There are at least 1,600 individual bushfires still burning across both states, which have destroyed hundreds of homes and left six people dead.

In a sermon posted on The Truth of Jesus Christ Church‘s Facebook page, Israel Folau claimed that the timing of the disaster was “no coincidence”.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he said.

“God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together, one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage,” he said, adding: “Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

He continued: “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys.

“Australia, you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God.”

Folau was sacked from Australia’s national rugby team in May after claiming on social media that “hell awaits” gay people. He also believes that the devil is to blame for transgender children.

Rather than apologise for his anti-LGBT+ views Folau has repeatedly defended his position, later launching legal action against Rugby Australia for unfair dismissal.

Although most of the country turned their backs on Folau, he somehow managed to maintain a small amount of followers who were asked to cover his legal costs. But as his latest comments were widely condemned across Australian media, even his supporters appeared to be distancing themselves from him.

Broadcaster Alan Jones, who had previously been a vocal supporter of Folau, reprimanded him on air. “Israel, button up. Button up. These comments don’t help,” he said during his 2GB show on Monday.

“Someone’s got to say hang on, look, these are difficult times for people in bushfires and drought and we’re not going to be in the business of making those sorts of comments which really are quite simply silly.”

Even prime minister Scott Morrison described Israel Folau as “appallingly insensitive”.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Morrison warned Folau: “He’s a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanes agreed, telling Sky News that Folau’s words were “pretty reprehensible”.

So far Folau has made no response to the latest backlash against him. His discrimination trial has been set for February, unless a court-ordered mediation in December is successful.