Israel Folau’s new fundraising campaign, which was relaunched by the Australian Christian Lobby, has now raised more than $1.6 million from donors.
The effort surpasses the $765,000 he accumulated through his GoFundMe page before it was shut down for allegedly violating the platformâs terms and conditions.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Isles said today the increased donations were a direct response to those trying to shut down the campaign in the first place.
âI think a lot ofÂ people who bought into IsraelÂ Folau’s campaign, who put the moneyÂ in, they did so because they sawÂ something about Israel’s case theyÂ felt resonated with them,â he told Today.
âWhen GoFundMe shut [down the page], it only confirmed their concernsâ¦ asÂ a result, they gave a whole lot more.Â
âThey want to beÂ able to put more money in, raiseÂ their voice for their freedom andÂ make a difference. These are whatÂ we call the quiet Australians.â
Mr Isles said the money donated was going into a trust that would be spent fighting Folauâs legal case, with any excess raised going to âdifferent causes that areÂ completely consistent with theÂ intentions of the original donorsâ.
He reassured those donating that their money would not be used for Folauâs personal use or for funding for the Australian Christian Lobby.
âTheyÂ bought into Israel because they seeÂ him as somebody they want toÂ champion. They see him as somebodyÂ they identify with and there is aÂ great deal of trust built up there,â he said.
âThat is not misplaced at all. ThisÂ money will be used well and willÂ actually end up making a differenceÂ regardless of where it goes.â
Mr Isles said a lot of people were not donating because they believed that Folau needs the finances, but because they felt the campaign was giving them a voice for freedom of speech.
âPeople feel likeÂ they are part of a movement, theyÂ are being heard and are actuallyÂ making a difference,â he said.
âI want to knowÂ at what stage do the Prime MinisterÂ and the Opposition Leader and the politicians actually respond toÂ this and say âyes, yes, we haveÂ heard you. The quiet AustraliansÂ gave us victory at the May 18Â election and now we are hearingÂ them againâ,â he said.
Mr Isles cited the bankâs comments as part of the reason why his campaign was having so much success.
âItÂ doesn’t surprise me at all. This isÂ precisely the reason why people areÂ supporting Israel Folau,â he said.
âThey seeÂ time and time again, whether it isÂ ANZ Bank targeting his wife orÂ whether it is people targetingÂ GoFundMe with complaints.â
He added that people were fed up with the complaints being about âinclusionâ when they âcanât includeÂ somebody with beliefs they disagreeÂ withâ.
âPeople hear this every day inÂ their workplaces, every day inÂ conversations that they have.
âIÂ think that is why there is suchÂ energy behind this.â
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