Disgraced Wallabies star Israel Folau broke down in tears while speaking in a Sydney church months after he linked the bushfire crisis to gay marriage and abortion.
Folau repeatedly wiped away tears with a tissue as he discussed the impact of the fires on Sunday while addressing The Truth of Jesus Christ Church – the same church where he previously told worshippers bushfires were ‘God’s punishment’ for legalising same-sex unions, during an emotional 17-minute sermon.
In the video shared on the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Facebook page, Folau questioned why it took the bushfire crisis to ravage the nation for Australians to ‘finally’ turn to God.
“Each week, every person who gets up here (to speak), we always remind and encourage one another that we are certainly living in the last days… there’s no doubt about it,” said Folau.
“For us, that’s in the faith, we look around and see certain things that are happening around the world — famines, earthquakes, wars, rumours of wars, kingdom rising against kingdom, nation against nation — that’s the beginning of signs, no doubt about it.
“I see on the news and the mainstream media saying there’s a lot of people out there, because of the things they’ve lost, and it’s been a tragic event for this country… you see people saying they’ve never prayed so hard in their life.
“Why does it take something so devastating like the bushfires for people to humble themselves and get down on their knees and ask God for help?”
Folau then went on to say that God “turns his face against the wicked” and that it was the job of believers to have their prayers heard.
The emotional sermon comes two months after a video emerged on the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Facebook page in which Folau suggested fires and drought were God’s punishment for legalising same-sex marriage and abortion in November last year.
Folau then received intense backlash from even his staunchest allies, including radio shock jock Alan Jones criticising Folau for his previous comments.
“Israel is a lovely human being. I know him well. But, Israel, button-up. Button up,” said the radio commentator on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show.
“These comments don’t help,” said the 2GB host.
Folau’s religious views first initially became a subject of controversy in April 2018, when a follower of his Instagram account asked him about God’s “plan for homosexuals”. Folau replied: “Hell … unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
He subsequently claimed that he was not homophobic – using his appearance on the Star Observer August 2014 issue as his defence.
“It has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth. I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition.”