Israel Folau, a former Rugby Australia player, is being criticized for “appallingly insensitive” comments linking the country’s bush fire crisis to its laws on same-sex marriage and abortion.

Folau, who was released by the team in April after making anti-gay comments on social media, created a 10-minute video sermon posted to the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney in which he says the bush fires and drought are “a little taste of God’s judgment.”

“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 bush fires and the droughts,” he said. After reading a passage from the Bible’s Book of Isaiah, he linked bush fires and drought to legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion.

“The events that have happened here in Australia in the last couple of years — God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together. … They’ve come and changed this law,” he said.

The fires have claimed the lives of four people in eastern Australia, and the country’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, called Folau’s comments “appallingly insensitive.”

“He is a free citizen. He can say whatever he likes. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievance [and] offense this would have caused to the people whose homes have burnt down,” Morrison told reporters.

The National Party’s Barnaby Joyce urged people to not engage with Folau, telling the Seven network (via the Australian Associated Press and that “He throws rocks at us so he feels good, we throw rocks back at him so we feel good … but not one of those actions is making a sandwich for a person fighting the fires."

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese called Folau’s comments “pretty reprehensible,” and told Sky News (via the Guardian) that “Mr. Folau has a history of making provocative comments. He’s entitled to his view, but it’s also incumbent upon people who have a bit of common sense here to reject those comments.”

At the time of his dismissal, Folau, 30, was one of the country’s highest-paid athletes, with a $4 million contract that was to run through 2022, and he is suing Rugby Australia over his firing, which came after he warned “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” on Instagram that “hell awaits them.” He had been warned last year about similar comments.

In Sunday’s video, Folau called on Australians to repent, saying he was delivering the message “out of love.” “Look how rapid these bush fires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time,” he said. “You think it’s a coincidence or not?

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

In a statement this past May, Folau said that speaking about his beliefs was his “duty as a Christian.”

“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression,” he said at the time. “The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.

“Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.”

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