'Isolated hate group': Inside Israel Folau's radical church

Israel Folau preaching at his church. Image: Supplied
Israel Folau preaching at his church. Image: Supplied
A parent of a young rugby player has revealed the radical teachings of former Wallaby Israel Folau's church.

Folau, who attends the Truth of Jesus Christ Church established by his father Eni in 2013, was sacked by the Wallabies after a controversial social media post in April that said homosexuals, fornicators, drunks, atheists and others were going to hell.

However, according to the teachings of Folau's 30-strong congregation church, most Christians are also bound for hell – which would include most of the donors who gave money to the former rugby player's legal defence fund organised by the Australian Christian Lobby.

When Folau started inviting other rugby players to his church, a Christian parent of a promising young rugby player started getting concerned and decided to find out herself what the Folaus were preaching. She was disturbed by what she discovered.

"I honestly do not want my son involved in what I have come to understand is false teachings and counterfeit Christianity. I've gone, I've checked it out and I would call them an isolated hate group," the woman told the Sydney Morning Herald of her experience attending bible studies at Pastor Eni Folau's home.

The former Wallabies star is in a legal battle with Rugby Australia and is seeking up to AU$10 million in damages, claiming that he was unfairly sacked based on religious grounds.

The Australian Christian Lobby paused donations for Folau's legal fund after it topped $2.2m. The parent, who was unnamed by the Sydney Morning Herald, said she raised concerns with the ACL after they became involved.

In her experience with Pastor Eni and his 20-year-old nephew and disciple Josiah Folau, the parent recalls the type of teachings of the controversial church.

"Only we have the truth," the Folaus said according to the parent.

Anyone who wasn't baptised in the way of the Folaus is heading for hell, the parent said of their teachings.

Pastor Eni believes that someone must renounce the evils of their ways, get baptised in the name of Jesus Christ and become "reborn" in water in order to become a "born again believer".

"If you've done it a different way from this then you aren't born again," Israel Folau said on Twitter.

His cousin Josiah even called the Catholic church "false and filled with lies".

"Any devout Catholic person IS NOT A SAVED CHRISTIAN WHATSOEVER. Look at Catholic doctrine, almost 100% of it is false and is filled with lies," Josiah wrote to the concerned parent. "The blasphemous Catholic mass is a paganistic ritual rooted in heresy, evil and devil worship."

"The Catholic Church is a synagogue of Satan and I one hundred per cent believe and affirm that Roman Catholicism is masked devil worship," he told the parent.

Israel Folau in the crowd at the Netball World Cup in England during his wife Maria Folau's match...
Israel Folau in the crowd at the Netball World Cup in England during his wife Maria Folau's match for the Silver Ferns against the Australian Diamonds. Photo: Getty Images
The baptisms of most other mainstream Christian churches who believe in the Trinity (the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit) are also false according to the Folaus, said the parent.

The church also preaches against women deaconesses or preachers, and that homosexuality is a sin "worthy of death".

"If you believe in women preachers, Satan's got you!" Josiah said, quoting from his uncle's sermon.

The Folaus also have a poisonous relationship with Australian mega church Hillsong and its pastor Brian Houston.

In a series of tweets in June last year, Israel Folau called out Houston and his teachings.

"You can't deny the word of God @BrianCHouston … stop teaching false doctrines and leading millions of people astray. People that are following such heresy. YOU need to wake up!!!" Folau tweeted.

"There's a name for pastors who never speak of sin, repentance or hell – they're called false teachers," he wrote in another tweet.

Houston replied: "@IzzyFolau has lost touch with the goodness and grace of Jesus and it's tragic …Who is bewitching you Israel? I am still here on the same mobile number."

Folau hit back: "There's one thing that's common with all you prosperity preachers, You don't ever speak of repentance, Hell, Sin. You (sic) worried about losing crowds & $$."

In April, Houston wrote a message to Folau calling for him to embrace love rather than trying to scare people into siding with his beliefs.

"As Christians it is equally important to look at ourselves and our own failings and imperfections," Houston wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.

"If you look at the list of sins that Izzy listed there's not too many people he's left out, including Christians. There isn't a person on earth who hasn't told a lie or put something before God (idolatry).

"In 40 years of telling people about the good news of Jesus, I have seen that the 'turn or burn', approach to proclaiming the message of Christianity alienates people. Scaring people doesn't draw them into the love of Jesus.

"The world doesn't need more judgmental Christians."

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