Folau raises $1 million for legal fight
The Australian Christian Lobby has thrown its support behind Israel Folau, initiating a fresh fundraiser which has raised more than one million dollars.
In less than 17 hours the new appeal amassed more than Folau's successful GoFundMe campaign raised in four days, before the fundraising website shut it down on Monday.
The ACL relaunched a campaign for the former Wallabies star on their website at 12.01am on Tuesday and donations have raced in at a rate of nearly $1000 per minute.
A large donation took the fundraiser from $925,000 to $1 million just before 5pm on Tuesday.
The fundraiser shows no signs of slowing down and the ACL has promised to tip in an additional $100,000 of their own money.
Folau has been trying to raise a $3 million war chest from public donations to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4 million contract in May.
RA sacked Folau after he paraphrased a biblical passage on social media saying "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.
The committed Christian said he had been discriminated against on religious grounds and set up the GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $750,000 since its launch on Friday.
On Monday, GoFundMe took the page down, citing a breach of its terms of service and announcing it would issue refunds to the more than 7000 donors.
"While we welcome GoFundMe's engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion," GoFundMe Australia's regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement.
A spokesman for Folau denied his campaign was incompatible with GoFundMe's terms of service.
"Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause," the spokesman said.
"There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters."
One of Australia's most senior Anglican leaders backed Folau, saying his right to express his faith was being denied.
"It is of great concern to many Australians that this right is being denied and vilified," Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The way in which Folau's motives have been impugned and his avenues of support have been cut off smacks of a new and ugly Australia where dissent from narrow cultural views is not tolerated.
"It had nothing to do with rugby and it should have been his right as a citizen to speak of what he believes without threat to his employment."
Earlier, the ACL said Folau had accepted its offer to host a new online appeal for funds, which will be transferred to a trust account to pay for his legal bills.
"So, please give generously today to help Folau stand for your religious freedoms," ACL managing director Martyn Iles wrote on the site.
Folau has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against RA and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.
More than 95,000 people had signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down Folau's page.
© AAP 2019