Israel Meant No Harm
Mr Folau lives in Australia which has very similar health and safety laws to New Zealand. The basis is a duty of care creating an expectation of action, whether this is warning of a hazard, or taking preventative measures to protect others or yourself from harm.
The prospect of hell is, when looking at the comments from Mr Folau, serious harm. For this reason his beliefs dictate that he has a moral, and maybe legal, responsibility to warn people about the threat he sees.
Now Mr Folau is not responsible for individuals' response to that warning. It seems he just feels strongly that he is duty bound to make the warning. He has not said that he is sending anyone to hell, that he made the rules around hell, or even that he made hell himself! Just what he believes the bible says about hell.
If individuals do not believe in hell, or the bible, then Mr Folau’s comments have no relevance or impact on them. If people believe in hell, but not Mr Folau’s take on it then there is plenty of opportunity for them to research the topic themselves and come up with their own opinion.
This venomous attack on an individual sharing his own personal deeply held beliefs sounds more like hate speech than his comments.
Taken in the context in which he shared them, he was not seeking to cause harm to anyone. None of us should be afraid of exploring and considering what may happen when this life ends, which is the one thing that is certain for all of us.
We cannot control the words of others and claim to defend free speech. As individuals we can most definitely become more resilient and better equipped to deal with words by being realistic about what is actually causing harm. Rejecting Mr Folau’s words as contrary to your belief is perfectly acceptable. Vilifying him for expressing his beliefs is very harmful not only to him, but to all those who may become too afraid to express their beliefs.
He meant no harm. Can the same be said of those who have attacked him for speaking his beliefs?
Leighton Baker, Leader