News National Christian leaders back Magda Szubanski’s counter-campaign bid to rival Israel Folau

Christian leaders back Magda Szubanski’s counter-campaign bid to rival Israel Folau

Comedian Magda Szubanski says Israel Folau is choosing his interpretation of the Bible. Photo: Getty/TND
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Two high-profile Christian leaders say they are backing comedian Magda Szubanski’s campaign for terminally ill children in a bid to denounce causes that use faith to divide communities.

Donors had pledged around $170,000 by Thursday morning to Szubanski’s cause, but it was a paltry amount compared to the millions given to the Australian Christian Lobby’s war chest for Israel Folau. 

The Kath & Kim star and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate launched the fundraiser on Tuesday to raise $500,000 to help children who are “in the fight of their lives” – quoting the exact phrase that Mr Folau used when describing his grab for cash to fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia.

High-profile Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire is among the supporters of the counter-campaign, along with Anglican priest Father Rod Bower who on Monday changed his parish’s community sign to read: “LGBT friends: Folau is wrong. Don’t listen to him”.

Folau’s $4 million contract was terminated in May after he breached its terms by sharing a social media post that warned “sinners” including drunks, homosexuals and liars would go to Hell if they did not repent.

His first fundraiser for legal costs was taken down by GoFundMe, which refunded donors.

But the ACL started a new campaign on its site, attracting sizeable donations from Australians who say they are concerned about protecting religious freedom.

Szubanski’s rival fundraiser will give 90 per cent of donations to the Children’s Cancer Foundation, and 10 per cent to Sydney-based LGBTQIA+ support service, Twenty10.

“Our Australian community is diverse, accepting, powerful and generous,” the crowdfunding page reads.

“It’s that spirit for which we should be known, and it’s with those values that we should be donating our time and money.”

The group behind Szubanski’s fundraiser, ForLove, is made up of a “united team of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Atheists – some gay and some straight”.

Father Bower said he was supporting Szubanski’s cause because Jesus’s practice was one of “radical inclusivity”.

“He even ate with sinners. So, if I’m going to be a Jesus follower, this fundraiser is something I can support,” he said in a statement.

Father Rod Bower
Father Rod Bower is a active campaigner on social justice issues. Photo: Twitter

But not everyone has supported Szubanski’s bid to raise money for sick children.

One social media user urged GoFundMe to “shut her down”, accusing the campaign of being fuelled by “Left Luvvies trying to feel good about themselves because they don’t get accepted in mainstream society”.

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford turned his nose up at the fundraiser too, criticising Szubanski’s actions as “perverse”.

“Just think it’s perverse that, once again, as we saw at the weekend, kids with cancer are being used as drawcards in this debate over Folau,” Mr Ford said on Twitter.

Other social media users hit back, arguing it was more perverse to donate money to fund a “multi-millionaire out of a contract dispute” over helping sick children.

“The fact my Muslim friends have put their names and faces to this campaign … means they support LGBTQI people,” Szubanski said in a tweet.

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