Scott Morrison has slammed Israel Folau’s claim that the bushfires that have destroyed 500 homes across Australia are God’s punishment for the legalisation of abortion and same-sex marriage.
The Prime Minister, a committed Christian who did not vote for same-sex marriage when the laws were debated by Parliament, condemned the rugby player’s comments as deeply insensitive and said he did not agree with them.
“Of course I don’t; I thought these were appallingly insensitive comments,” Mr Morrison said.
“They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.
“I am sure to many Christians around Australia … that is not their view at all and whose thoughts and prayers, let me stress from Christians, are very much with those who are suffering under the terrible burden of fires.
Mr Morrison also alluded to recent comments by the Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John where he compared politicians who failed to act on climate change with “arsonists”.
“I’ve been very disappointed at the comments that have been made all around these fires and the opportunistic politics that has occurred and the cheap points that have been made,” the Prime Minister said.
“Could they just please think about the people directly who are impacted by the devastating fires. Let’s just focus on those who need our help most and if people don’t have something sensible or helpful to say, can you just keep it”.
Asked if Mr Folau was misrepresenting Christianity, the Prime Minister replied “I’ve made my response”.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Mr Folau’s remarks did not bring anything positive or constructive to the debate. On social media, he urged MPs to show leadership and “call out” his comments.
“I think most people regard, when they think of God or their spirituality, they think of something positive and they think of a loving God,” he said.
“They don’t think of religion or faith in those terms. And his comments are in line with some of his other comments, which are pretty reprehensible, frankly.”
“But Mr Folau has, of course, a history of making provocative comments. He’s entitled to his view, but it’s also incumbent, I think, upon people who have a bit of common sense here to reject those comments.”
The sacked Wallaby star made the comments over the weekend.
“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he says in the clip on the The Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney Facebook page.
“Look how rapid these bushfires these droughts all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?”
“God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”
Staunch supporter Alan Jones used his 2GB radio show on Monday morning to tell the former rugby union star to “button up”.
“Israel is a lovely human being, I know him well. Israel, button up. Button up,” he said.
“These comments don’t help.”