The Israel Folau Case, Heterodoxy and ‘Orthodox Sexual Desire’ in Conservative Australian Christianity


  • Mark Jennings Wollaston Theological College



Israel Folau case, same-sex desire, Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Australian Christian Lobby, Michel Foucault, scientia sexualis


In April 2019, athlete Isileli ‘Israel’ Folau was sacked for posting anti-LGBTQ+ social media messages. The ‘Israel Folau case’ was contentious in Australia and internationally. Although Folau claimed to be expressing genuinely held Christian beliefs, he has previously articulated heterodox anti-Trinitarian ideas. Throughout Christian history, orthodox beliefs concerning the Trinity have been central. Conversely, same-sex desire has been variously tolerated or censured, but has mostly been regarded as adiaphora: a matter of marginal importance. I argue that the support Folau received from two conservative Christian bodies—the Australian Christian Lobby and the Anglican Diocese of Sydney—suggests that in Australian conservative Christianity, ‘orthodox’ sexuality is now regarded as central, with orthodox belief now de facto consigned to adiaphora.

Author Biography

Mark Jennings, Wollaston Theological College

Mark Jennings is a senior lecturer in Religious Studies at Wollaston Theological College and University of Divinity in Australia. He has published research on Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity, gender and sexuality, secularisation, and neo-liberalism. He is the author of the forthcoming book Happy: LGBTQ+ Experiences of Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023).


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How to Cite

Jennings, M. (2023). Adiaphora: The Israel Folau Case, Heterodoxy and ‘Orthodox Sexual Desire’ in Conservative Australian Christianity. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 36(1), 76–98.