A parent is outraged at an assignment given to Year 9 students encouraging them to advocate for Israel Folau and express “deep concern” about “attacks” on religious freedom.
The letter, signed off by “the Religious Education Year 9 Team”, was recently given to students at St Patrick’s Marist College in New South Wales. 7News.com.au published it on Wednesday.
The letter tells students religious freedom is “being attacked in the workplace, schools, universities and on the streets.”
“We are sure you have heard through media and social forums the plight of Religious Freedom and Freedom of Speech which is being depleted in our Australian society,” it reads.
The letter says Israel Folau had recently become “the most discussed and divisive figure in Australia” and is “the face of religious freedom”.
“In reality, the matter is not about what Folau posted but about religious freedom and freedom of speech.
“Should we lose our job for making public our own private views? Do we as Australians have the right to voice our own opinion about matters that concern our individuality, our beliefs, our faith?
The letter continues: “Your mission is to present to your Local Member of Federal Parliament, a letter expressing deep concern for the future of protection of [religious] freedom and freedom of speech.
“If we don’t act now our future rights will be depleted. Many will face tough sanctions and may even lose their job just like Israel Folau.”
But one father complained to 7News.com.au about the assignment, saying it left his daughter upset.
“Why would they even mention his name after the things he said that have put vulnerable teens at risk?” he said.
“My daughter is really upset and is afraid to speak out about it at her school.”
School says Israel Folau assignment has been ‘withdrawn’
Relieving Executive Director of the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta told 7News it was aware of concerns from parents.
“A number of the sentiments in the covering letter for the assignment do not represent the views of the Diocese of Parramatta, its schools or Marist Schools Australia,” she said.
“Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta would like to apologise to students and parents for any concern created by the task and associated communication to students.
“The assignment has been withdrawn. Students will be given the opportunity to complete a new assessment that is consistent with contemporary approaches to learning and teaching.”
Folau’s ongoing stoush with Rugby Australia is continuing following the termination of his contract in May.
He infamously took to Instagram to condemn “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” to hell unless they repented. Folau also linked transgender people to the devil in a separate post.
Folau launched court proceedings for unlawful termination against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs.
Folau’s own church critical of Catholics
Israel Folau’s Sydney church, called the Truth of Jesus Christ Church and run by his father Eni Folau, has been criticised for its extreme views.
Earlier this month, Israel’s cousin Josiah Folau was reportedly let go from a job at St Gregorys’ Catholic College in Campbelltown, south west Sydney.
It was not made clear why, but Josiah had just weeks earlier been quoted as saying the Catholic Church was the “synagogue of Satan” and “Roman Catholicism is masked devil worship”.
“Any devout Catholic person IS NOT A SAVED CHRISTIAN WHATSOEVER,” he reportedly said.
“Look at Catholic doctrine, almost 100 per cent of it is false and is filled with lies.”
Meanwhile, the Morrison government is preparing to unveil its controversial religious discrimination legislation within weeks.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said he wants the parliament to pass the as-yet-unseen Religious Discrimination Act before the end of the year.
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