Israel Folau criticised by Australian Prime Minister for bushfire comments

18 November 2019, 09:22 | Updated: 18 November 2019, 09:59

Israel Folau has been criticised by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for linking the country's recent bushfire and drought problems with the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service recently confirmed that six lives and 530 homes have been lost since the bushfire season began several weeks ago.

Delivering a sermon at the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney on Sunday, Folau said: "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.

"Abortion; it's now okay to murder and kill unborn children and they deem that to be okay.

"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 take these laws and turn it back into following what is right by God."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned Folau's remarks as "appallingly insensitive".

"They were appalling comments and he is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes," Morrison said on Monday. "But that doesn't mean he can't have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down.

"And I'm sure to many Christians around Australia for whom that is not their view at all and whose thoughts and prayers, let me stress, are very much with those who are suffering."

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese backed up Morrison's criticism on social media.

"This is pretty reprehensible," Albanese tweeted. "Some people might not want to give his comments any more oxygen than they deserve, and I get that.

"But for people in leadership positions, it's on us to reject this rubbish. To call it out. We're so much better than this."

Folau is fighting the termination of his contract with Rugby Australia after he posted on social media that hell awaited 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers' and other groups.