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Israel, please shut up about God – oh, and happy Easter!

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Editor
20th April, 2019
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At some stage in the next week or so Israel Folau will discover his fate. But if it’s this week, it’ll be late in the piece, primarily due to Easter.

Israel is wrong, no question about it. He’s a man of immense influence who took that power and belittled homosexual people.

What a woeful use of the platform he’s been given.

That he did it a year after almost being fired for pretty much the same thing shows he’s either an idiot or immensely arrogant.

Or perhaps he’s a bit confused.

While Rugby Australia needed a little time to sort out the specifics of his code of conduct hearing, the process has been shunted back due to the whole country being on a break at the moment.

Because it’s Easter.

Israel Folau

Israel Folau (Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Now, Israel may rail against Christ’s resurrection being used as a “man-made” chance to take a few days off work and eat too much chocolate.

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But he’s probably also a bit miffed about people who want to sack him for preaching the Bible then taking four days’ break to celebrate that book’s central figure.

It seems a tad hypocritical, doesn’t it?

“We’re going to fire you for talking about the things we don’t like in that book you’ve dedicated your life to. But we’ll have to officially give you the boot next week, because we’re having a holiday thanks to events described in the Gospel.”

It’s wilfully ignorant for an educated Australian of the 21st century to believe blindly in a series of teachings that date back thousands of years as being fact. So much of what’s in those pages are obviously stories people told each other millennia ago to try and make sense of the vast, unknowable world around them.

Yet the whole country – most of the western world, for that matter – is presently soaking up an extended vacation because that same book said a carpenter from the Middle East (who admittedly had some pretty groovy ideas) came back from the dead more than 2000 years ago.

We ridicule those who do the former, yet jump on board for the latter. So where have we drawn this line between crazy belief and sweet, sweet government-mandated holidays?

And what about the reporting of Folau’s quotes this past week?

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The Sydney Morning Herald sent a reporter along to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church at Kenthurst last Sunday and got a few words out of Folau:

“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do…

“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think.”

These quotes were run by not only the SMH and its affiliate publications, but also News and the likes of the ABC. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that we here at The Roar published them too.

My issue is not that his words were reported – he deserves a right of reply. It’s that all the above-mentioned outlets, having (more or less) made it clear they do not agree with Folau’s stance, used reverential capitalisation for pronouns:

“Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans…”

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I get using a capital G when referring to God – it’s a deity’s name. Similarly, you would write Vishnu, Ahura Mazda or Rainbow Serpent.

But He and His? What’s going on there? Especially when you’re writing out the spoken word?

Israel Folau

Israel Folau (Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

I can answer in part because I’ve got a copy (one that’s admittedly a bit older) of the Fairfax Stylebook.

Regarding God, it states:

“For the Judaeo-Christian and Islamic God. Upper case pronouns used for God: He, Him, His, Thou, Thee, Thy, You, Your, Me, My. Lower case god, gods generically.”

Presumably these other publications’ style guides say something similar (for the record, The Roar style guide – a genuine work of art by the great Geoff Lemon – is silent on the issue of capitalising deities).

But, to be clear, it is a style choice – it’s not simply accepted as being grammatically correct. AAP, for example, don’t use capitals when concerning themselves with pronouns referring to a god that some people believe in.

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But we don’t even need to go as far as style guides. You ever wonder where the word holi-day comes from? Do I need to spell it out?

Religion – specifically Christianity – is an ingrained part of our culture.

It dictates our time off work and school, guides the way our media reports the news and even lies at the root of how we spell our words.

So should we be surprised – or even angry – when someone goes delving into that religion a bit deeper than the rest of us care to and digs up something we don’t like?

No, I’m not saying that it excuses Folau – pretty sure there’s stuff in that book about not casting the first stone and taking the log out of your own eye before pointing out the splinter in others’.

But if he is confused about what does and doesn’t fly when quoting the Bible in Australia, I can somewhat sympathise – we might wear thongs or even Jesus sandals, but we flip-flop on Christianity.

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So rather than simply spelling the end of Folau’s rugby career, this unfortunate incident could be used as a turning point for our country.

I daresay the word ‘holiday’ is set in stone, but the rest of it doesn’t need to be.

Maybe it’s time we stop determining when our national holidays are – especially this floating Easter malarkey, which can be any weekend in a month-long window – based on a splintered, factionalised gang of old white men wearing robes (yes, yes, it’s determined by the moon’s cycle, but the moon didn’t invent this concept).

Let’s just legislate a set, four-day weekend each March and call it the quarter-year break.

And as for our nation’s largest, most trusted media outlets? It’s definitely time to give away the reverential capitalisation – it’s antiquated, illogical and panders to the wrong kind of people.

Because as long as Christianity is a determining factor in basic ways we run our country, misguided Bible bashers will have reasonable cause to think that we’re interested in living our lives based on the crazier aspects of that tome.