A campaign to raise money to support ex-Wallaby Israel Folau’s legal stoush with Rugby Australia has been “paused” after donations topped $2 million.
The Australian Christian Lobby, which set up the fundraiser on its website, said the flow of donations since it was opened on Tuesday had been overwhelming.
More than 20,000 people had donated more than $2.2 million by Thursday morning. For much of the time the appeal was live, donations flooded in at the rate of 10 a minute.
“Your overwhelming support means that Israel Folau has raised enough money for now,” the ACL said in a statement on its website.
“ACL, Izzy and everyone involved is humbled and grateful. We are hitting the pause button. But if the case drags on and Israel needs more support, we will reopen this campaign.”
The ACL said the fundraiser not only showed there was support for Folau but a “great movement of quiet Australians have found their voice”.
“This cannot be ignored,” it said.
Folau wanted to raise $3 million for his unfair dismissal case, which he believes amounts to discrimination on religious grounds.
He is seeking $10 million in damages from RA and wants his multimillion-dollar contract reinstated after it was pulled by the association.
RA took issue with a social media post by the committed Christian in April that was condemned as homophobic.
Folau had paraphrased a Bible passage saying “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” would go to hell unless they repented.
The ACL effort replaced an earlier campaign on GoFundMe that was taken down by the platform for breaching its service guidelines.
Folau on Wednesday said he was humbled by the strength of the public support for his cause.
“To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions,” he posted on Instagram.
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I am humbled by the support I have received from so many of you since Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract after I shared a religious message on social media. To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions. To the thousands of you who donated to my GoFundMe campaign, I am forever grateful. GoFundMe’s decision to shut down my campaign proves the importance of my case; whether you share my faith or believe in my right to express it, attempts to sanction what we believe is a threat to all Australians. I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf. For those not in a position to donate, your support and prayers will make more of a difference than anything else. God bless!
A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on