Revelation of Folau sting rocks rugby
The mother of a Wallabies player infiltrated Israel Folau's church to reveal the "truth" about its teachings.
Helen Petaia has admitted she used a fake name to exchange messages online with Folau's cousin, Josiah, to press the 20-year-old student about the beliefs of the Truth of Jesus Christ Church run by Israel Folau's father, Eni, before leaking what she was told to the media.
Helen is the mother of Jordan Petaia - a young star who made his debut for the Wallabies against Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup in Japan last weekend.
The Herald Sun obtained correspondence between Ms Petaia and Folau's 20-year-old cousin Josiah, that formed the basis of an expose of that was published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
She probed the young man about his views on the faith of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Hillsong pastor Brian Houston and described the church to the newspaper as an "isolated hate group".
It resulted in Josiah being fired from a casual job as a boarding house supervisor at St Gregory's' Catholic College in Sydney days after he was quoted as saying the Catholic Church was the "synagogue of Satan".
The revelation Helen Petaia was behind the sting hasn't been well received in the Wallabies camp at the World Cup. A source toldThe Australianthat Israel Folau had been "inundated with messages of support" from his former teammates, which expressed their "utter disbelief" at the "extreme lengths" she had gone to.
As part of her undercover investigation, Ms Petaia also travelled from her Queensland home to attend a prayer meeting at the church in Sydney. She obtained "evidence" but would not say if she recorded anything.
Part of Mrs Petaia's motivation was to inform the Australian Christian Lobby - which raised money for Folau's legal expenses - about what his church believed in.
She had not informed Jordan about her actions, but was concerned that he and other young people would be influenced by Israel Folau's star power.
She focused on the topic of litigation in the correspondence with Folau's cousin. "What does the bible say about suing people?" she asked. "I wonder if this is something Jesus would ever consider doing.
"Your cousin Israel seems not to understand forgiveness and demonstration of the love of Jesus, he is behaving just like nonbelievers even though he says he is standing up for all people of faith."
Folau has been axed by Rugby Australia because of homophobic media posts linked to his religious beliefs. The star back is now suing RA for $10 million.
Ms Petaia has been in the headlines previously, successfully fighting a tax bill which had crippled her small business.
- with NZ Herald