The Project host Lisa Wilkinson is often praised for her hard-hitting questions, but the TV star and renowned journalist divided fans at the weekend with a last minute, surprising question for a Christian leader about controversial rugby star Israel Folau.
Martyn Iles appeared on the channel 10 news program on Sunday night to discuss the sportsman, who last month was stood down from his top position with Rugby Australia for voicing anti-gay comments. Folau, who is a devout Christian, took to Instagram in April and shared an image which said that sinners including “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators” would be going to hell.
Since then, the rugby union ace has remained in the spotlight with his legal team confirming just weeks ago that applications had been filed with the Fair Work Commission with the rugby player claiming he was “unlawfully fired” because of his religious beliefs.
Speaking about the turn of events on Sunday, Iles was just about to wrap up his chat with Wilkinson when she reportedly slipped in one last question about his beliefs on whether or not homosexuals go to hell.
“Martyn, just quickly before we let you go — speaking of feeling marginalised, do you believe that homosexuals go to hell?” Wilkinson asked, according to news.com.au.
To which a surprised Iles is said to have replied: “Mainstream Christian belief on this is that all of us are born going to hell. We’re all sinners and I don’t think it’s helpful to say that Israel Folau’s post targeted homosexuals – it didn’t.
“I was on the list. I think each of us were on the list. We’re all sinners. We will be judged by God and we will be found wanting. I think that’s something that some Australians find offensive.”
Wilkinson has received a mixed response for the last minute question, with many taking to social media to voice their opinions on the interview.
“That’s a fantastic answer to a stupid question,” one person wrote on Twitter. “What happened to journalist’s being impartial,” another queried.
While a third added: “It was embarrassing. Lisa’s question was pathetic.”
There were some however, who praised the reporter, claiming she had every right to ask the question.
“Brilliantly done by Ms Wilkinson,” someone said on Twitter.
Just hours after the controversial interview question was aired, an online appeal in which Folau asked the public to donate $3 million towards his costly legal fight against Rugby Australia was pulled down by GoFundMe.
The 30-year-old dual code star shared a video online last Thursday, titled ‘Looking for your support’, in which he revealed he has already spent more than $100,000 fighting his termination, arguing his former employers sacked him over his religious beliefs after he stood by anti-gay comments he shared on Instagram. He also shared a link to a GoFundMe page, as he asked fans to financially back his legal battle.
Now, just four days later, the sportsman’s fundraising page has vanished from the online crowdfunding platform, and an error message is now displayed which simply reads: “Campaign not found.”
According to Business Insider, the former Waratahs star’s campaign was removed as it violated the company’s terms and conditions. A spokesperson told the news outlet that GoFundMe would be closing Folau’s campaign on Monday and issuing full refunds to everyone who donated cash to his cause.
“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” the spokesperson said. “As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity. While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.
“In the days since Mr Folau’s campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.”