By John Brindley - Staff Author
ENGLAND rugby union star Billy Vunipola was booed when he arrived at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday for a high-profile match.
He was verbally barracked again during the first half of Saracens’ 32-16 victory over Irish club Munster in their European Champions Cup clash.
At one stage a Munster fan even ran onto the pitch and swore in his face.
In other circumstances, such abuse could have been described as blatant racism – but, after Vunipola’s week of politically correct hell, hardly anyone of note dares to raise their voice in his defence.
For Vunipola was found guilty this week of that most heinous of crimes – having an opinion that is not politically correct and the balls to make it public.
Now I strongly disagree with Vunipola’s point of view, but that much is irrelevant. What I do support – and everyone who believes in free speech should concur – is his right to speak his mind.
Vunipola’s alleged sin followed very controversial comments made by Australian professional rugby player Israel Folau who posted a message on social media claiming ‘hell awaits… drunks, homosexuals, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators’.
Vunipola liked the post and then replied on his Instagram account: “There comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough. Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?”
So far Rugby Australia have announced their intention to permanently remove Folau from their national term – no room for remorse there – and here the RFU have disciplined Vunipola and warned him about his future conduct, putting a cloud over his involvement with England in the forthcoming World Cup in Japan.
For those who aren’t aware, Folau and Vunipola have another important factor in common aside from their rugby skills. Both are Evangelical Bible-believing Christians. This when I last looked wasn’t a crime, thank God!
Vunipola reportedly belongs to a Pentecostal church called the Assemblies of God. This is a fundamentalist group with thousands of members in this country.
The relevance of this is that neither Israel nor Billy are actually making their own unique judgements here. They are merely repeating a well-established religious line followed by countless numbers of believers throughout the world.
Folau’s comments come directly from the mysterious Book of Revelation. Nor is this an isolated scripture for the same message is more or less repeated in 1 Corinthians, Timothy, Hebrews and Ephesians.
It is the basic message of the church handed down and repeated over the last 2,000 years that, unless we tow the line by believing in Jesus Christ and walking on a very narrow path, we will be eternally damned.
And the same condemnation of homosexuality is by no means religiously exclusive to Christianity. Islam takes the harshest line of all and there is by no means universal approval in the Jewish faith.
Vunipola’s response is much milder in comparison and merely highlights a point that most people on the planet would agree with, whether or not they are religious. That man and woman were created to procreate. It’s the way of the world whether we like it or not. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be writing this.
Now I stand strongly against the scriptures quoted by Folau. They better be untrue or that’s five hell sentences for me alone!
But one of the reasons I have sympathy for him is that I have been in his place. I was a member of an equally fervent Bible-believing church. I vividly recall making a bit of a fool of myself when I made similar comments in public.
Yet where I was fortunate was that people were just a little more sensible in those days. Instead of scolding me and trying to get me sacked, they continued to talk with me and eventually when my eyes were opened again I realised I’d fallen foul of one of the most potent mind control programmes.
And that is the way, too, that I hope people are dealing in private with Vunipola. How can threatening to take his livelihood or abusing him in public do any good? He needs time and space to reflect but, for now, he as the moral right to hold to religious dogma.
It should also be noted that Vunipola did not abuse or cause harm to any individual by his comment. The rank bad behaviour instead came from politically correct morons who targeted him at his place of work.
Perhaps you can see the irony of people supposedly protesting at the lack of respect of others by showing a far greater lack of respect and restraint?
Not all of the broad church of modern-day Christendom is as dogmatic as this on LGBT issues and other supposedly sinful behaviour.
But before other Christians pass judgement, it’s worth pointing out that it has taken the Anglican Church in this country until very recent years before it has made gay people more welcome in their buildings – let alone in positions of authority.
It is one of the many weaknesses and curses of political correctness that, although this is a very new phenomena, it expects all and sundry to immediately take on board its often ridiculous doctrines.
For example, just because Britain has sanctioned gay marriage does not mean that everyone believes in it. We all surely have a right to our own opinion.
Vunipola answered his critics with a man of the match performance for Saracens. I hope he will have the same success for England in the World Cup.
He was not selected to play for his country because of his religious views but his skills and bravery as a rugby player.
Continue going down this politically correct line and the day will come when the best way to stop an opponent is not to tackle or outplay them but get someone to read their tweets.
And that is a damning indictment of our petty tick box culture.
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