Reverend Dr. Ma’afu Palu has never had the opportunity to speak with the seven Manly players who chose to sit out Thursday’s game rather than put on a rainbow jersey that was in direct opposition to their own personal beliefs regarding sexuality.
Christianity has a very deep hold in our culture, said Palu, from the Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan Church in Greenacre.
“Whatever the bible says is very authoritative to us. Personally, I’m very proud.”
When Manly instructed its players to wear the jersey without first consulting the players themselves, it unwittingly created the latest flashpoint in deepening tensions between some Australian religions and the mainstream community over sexuality and same-sex marriage.
These tensions have been growing for some time now.
The most theologically conservative religious groups, like the Palu, believe that accepting sexual variety is in conflict with the bible.
Secular and progressive religious groups, on the other hand, support sexual diversity.
A conflict of the same kind is going on in schools right now, as well as in politics, and even in churches.
About half of the players in the National Rugby League can trace their ancestry back to somewhere in the Pacific Islands.
This is because of the significant missionary work that took place in the region over the course of the last several centuries.
According to the Reverend Hedley Fihaki, the National Chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, Christianity was “ingrained into our society.”
It is not enough for us to go to church on Sundays; our religious traditions are deeply ingrained in our culture and define who we are as a people.