Australian Rugby Player Blames Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion for Wildfires and Droughts: 'You Think It's a Coincidence or Not?'

A controversial Australian rugby player has blamed same-sex marriage and abortion for the country's bushfires and droughts.

Israel Folau was fired by Rugby Australia in April after claiming on social media that homosexuals, adulterers and other sinners would go to hell unless they repent.

Now, he's doubled down on those claims in a church sermon where he claimed the bushfires that have devastated Australia are God's punishment for legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage.

In a video live-streamed on the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney's Facebook page on Sunday, viewed by Newsweek, Folau said: "I've been looking around at the events that's been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts."

Folau then reads scripture from the Bible and links it to Australia's natural disasters as well as abortion and same-sex marriage.

"The events that's happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years... God's word says for a man and a woman to be together... one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage to be together… [in] Australia, they've come and changed this law. They've changed that law and have legalized same sex marriage."

He added: "Abortion, it's okay now to murder and kill infants, unborn children and they think that to be OK."

Folau then insisted that the passage is about Australia, adding: "Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it's a coincidence or not?

"God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent and turn, take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God."

Comparing Australia to Sodom and Gomorrah, he added: "What you see right now out in the world it's only a little taste of God's judgement. The news now are saying that these bushfires are the worst they've ever seen in Australia... they haven't even seen anything... God is speaking to us."

The bushfires in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, have claimed six lives to date and destroyed more than 400 homes, authorities said on Saturday.

Folau, a devout Christian who most recently played for the New South Wales Waratahs, had his $2.7 million (4 million Australian dollars) contract terminated by Rugby Australia over his homophobic social media post earlier this year. He had previously been warned about anti-gay messages he had posted online.

The 30-year-old attracted widespread criticism after he posted an image on Instagram in April that said "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" will go to hell unless they repent. "Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him," he added in the caption of the post, which remains on his profile.

Folau has said he does not regret making the post during a conference last month. "I knew it was going to be ­offensive to a lot of people ... but ultimately it's a message of love," Folau said, according to The Australian.

He is now suing Rugby Australia and the Waratahs for $6.8 million (AU$10 million) in damages, 7News reports.

Israel Folau
Israel Folau is seen in the stands prior to the Vitality Netball World Cup Round 3 match between Australia and New Zealand at M&S Bank Arena on July 18, 2019 in Liverpool, England. Nathan Stirk/Getty Images