Folau’s donations surge past $2m
Israel Folau continues to divide the nation in his fight against Rugby Australia, but it hasn't stopped the donations from flooding in.
Shortly after 8pm (AEST) on Wednesday evening the donations to Folau surged past $2 million on the Australian Christian Lobby fundraising page. He is now less than $1 million away from his goal.
The alternative fundraising site was established after Folau's original campaign on GoFundMe, asking for donations to help fight his legal battle, was taken down.
Folau states he is in the "fight of his life" after Rugby Australia terminated his multimillion-dollar contract in May after he posted a controversial social media message.
The post said "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.
As the saga continues to roll on, the pressure has only amplified on Folau with his wife, Maria, now facing the heat after two major netball partners issued negative statements about the New Zealand and Adelaide Thunderbirds star.
But it hasn't stopped the donations, in fact it may have only amplified the matter. Folau's original GoFundMe campaign reached $750,000 over four days.
After his page was pulled down on Monday morning, the ACL had set up the new fundraising page by Monday evening and in less than 24 hours it had surged past the seven figure mark.
The raised funds are to go towards Folau's legal fight against RA over unfair dismissal which he believes could go all the way to the High Court.
After days of remaining silent, Folau responded to the astonishing generosity with a message on his Instagram account. He also stated he held no "ill will" towards people who have criticised him.
View this post on Instagram
I am humbled by the support I have received from so many of you since Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract after I shared a religious message on social media. To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions. To the thousands of you who donated to my GoFundMe campaign, I am forever grateful. GoFundMe’s decision to shut down my campaign proves the importance of my case; whether you share my faith or believe in my right to express it, attempts to sanction what we believe is a threat to all Australians. I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf. For those not in a position to donate, your support and prayers will make more of a difference than anything else. God bless!
In a video released on Tuesday night, ACL Managing Director Martyn Iles called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make a stand.
"It's time for our politicians to lead. It's time for Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese to outline in detail how they will protect people of faith and the important principles of freedoms that are raised by Israel's case," he said.
"This sort of public lynching is unacceptable in a supposedly tolerant and ethnically and religiously diverse country like Australia and our politicians cannot simply wash their hands like Pontius Pilate."
At the rate the donations are rolling in, the goal of $3 million could be reached by Thursday evening. Of course the website won't close once the target has been hit.
Mr Iles said he could "not go into detail" about where any money above the $3 million mark would go.
Asked by the Today Show host Deborah Knight about the potential excess donations, Mr Iles said: "It will be distributed in a way that is consistent with …"
Knight interrupted: "Distributed where though?"
"It will go to different causes that are completely consistent with the intentions of the original donors," Mr Iles replied.
Pressed for where that will be exactly, Mr Iles said: "I am not able to go into the detail at this stage."