Folau made ‘crazy prayer’ before Insta posts
IN A deep discussion about his spirituality, former Wallaby Israel Folau has revealed he made a "crazy prayer" before making the social media posts that would turn his life upside down.
Speaking to a packed room of hundreds of Christians at the Australian Christian Lobby's national conference, called "Not Ashamed", he said he would "absolutely" send the now-infamous posts again if he could go back.
The 30-year-old entered to a hero's welcome at Sydney's International Conference Centre as he walked out on to the stage, after a montage of the past, for an interview with ACL managing director Martyn Iles.
After extensively thanking those who had supported him, Folau told the audience: "I felt really content in my work, with God and how everything was going.
"All of a sudden I wanted to pray a crazy prayer and ask the Lord: 'Lord, you know I'm feeling really comfortable at the moment, it's going to test my faith and it's going to test my trust. Am I going to continue to serve you faithfully?'"
The audience at this point erupted into laughter, before Folau smiled and said: "And God prepared this (his current legal situation) for me. So, be careful what you wish for. God can give it to you."
Asked whether he, looking back, he would have made the posts again, he said: "I would absolutely."
He said that at the moment when he hit send on the posts, he thought back to his "crazy prayer".
"I guess when I had prayed that prayer I was talking about earlier, I had already purpose in my heart that if I was to find myself in this situation (that) at least I was going to what's right by God and stand up for the truth, regardless of the things we may lose within this lifetime.
"Throughout this whole situation, it's brought me closer to God."
He then warned the audience to prepare themselves for a situation like the one he was in.
"It's very important that you're ready because I can guarantee you that it's happened to me now, but it's certainly going to happen to many other people sitting in this room now," he said.
"You might not think it could happen to you, it possibly could."
He said that when confronted with this, they should not "compromise and conform to the way that society and culture is".
Before he walked out, a montage of the past six months' media coverage played out on the big screen, showing Mr Iles' appearances defending Folau on Sunrise and The Project.
Asked about how much of the media coverage about him had been true, Folau said: "Probably like 0.1 per cent.
"The media like to twist a lot of things and portray me to be a certain type of person.
"But it's something I'm not worried about. The only approval I care about is God's approval."
He was then given a standing ovation as he walked off the stage.
He appeared as part of a roster of conservative speakers including pro-life campaigner and Liberal NSW MP Tanya Davies and international guests who outlined what they believe are the struggles faced by Christians around the world.
Some of the hundreds of attendees on Saturday told news.com.au they had come to the conference to be inspired as they had become increasingly frustrated with the way Australian society was headed.
Mandy Clifton, from the city's northern beaches, said she believed society based on science was letting people down - pointing to rates of suicide, depression and violence.
"Science will tell you that you have no purpose, only living by God gives you purpose," she said.
"A movement like this (the ACL) seeks to influence the culture and lay our beliefs out in a truthful and loving way."
In brochures handed out at Saturday's event, the ACL said its supporters had played a major part in this year's election by handing out 140,000 flyers in "three of the four seats which determined the federal election outcome".
Maria Davies, from the Blue Mountains, told news.com.au she had become interested in the movement because of the Folau incident.
She said she was increasingly worried about freedom to express her religious thoughts, saying her opinion on same-sex marriage had lost her three friends, one of whom she had been friends with for 45 years.
"I also know a few people who got the sack after discussing their opinions in the office," she said.
"A complaint's been made and they've lost their job."
In the lead-up to the conference, Folau posted a video message online alongside his wife Maria urging Christians to head to the event and share the hashtag #notashamed.
"We are not ashamed to follow Jesus and we're not ashamed to follow truth," he said.
Folau's appearance comes as his legal fight against Rugby Australia and Waratahs Rugby drags on in the Federal Circuit Court.
He is arguing that the RA tribunal's ruling that he should be fired over two social media posts is void and he's also seeking damages.
In one social media post, Folau claimed transgender people were evil and should repent.
In another he paraphrased a Bible passage saying "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators" would go to hell unless they repented.
Folau's legal matter will return to court on December 17 ahead of a trial if mediation is unsuccessful.