As Israel Folau’s GoFundMe campaign soars past half a million dollars, this latest twist in the Rugby footballer’s Instagram saga will make some things very clear.
• Do Australian Christians support him with their wallets?
• Is Folau intending to take this legal case all the way, possibly to the High Court?
• Will Folau get underdog status in this fight?
The first half a million came from 6,000 individual donations, which makes the average donation just under $100. However, Eternity notes that many donor names have donated more than once, so the total number of Folau’s financial supporters is not clear.
At that rate, to make the full $3 million Folau has set as his GoFundMe target would need 36,000 donors. For comparison, the recently defunct Australian Conservatives political party – supported by the sort of people likely to also support Folau’s appeal – got many more votes than that. And you’d think Folau’s support base would be wider than that for the Australian Conservatives.
Some Christian leaders are urging caution.
“Dear Christians, I am very uneasy about giving money to help Israel F’s court challenge,” Michael Jensen, an Eternity columnist and Sydney Anglican minister, wrote on Facebook. “I want to see clarity over this law. That would help our community live in peace.
“But there are any number of higher priorities for your gospel $ right now.
“Think carefully, please.”
The Australian Christian Lobby, which has been running an “I stand with Izzy” campaign, may well urge its supporters to donate. Eternity has not seen an official endorsement so far.
Lyle Shelton, who led the Australian Conservatives Senate team in Queensland, commented earlier in the fundraising campaign: “Great to see this has reached an amazing $220k already. Please chip in if you can. Australia must remain free.”
In the early stages of the Folau story, a number of Christian leaders questioned whether Folau’s paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 was a helpful way to spread the gospel message, while others have strongly supported him. Eternity’s social media threads have been alive with competing views on Folau. The fundraising campaign, especially if it quickly reaches its target, may give some indication of whether the wider Christian public stands with Izzy.