In support of Billy Vunipola

Apr 16, 2019 by

by Revd John Armstrong (received by email):

Letter to the Rugby Football Union and to Saracens Rugby Club:

Dear Sir,

I am not a Rugby fan, but I wish to protest at your treatment of Billy Vunipola. Mr Vunipola has done nothing wrong, other than express his Christian beliefs in support of another Christian believer.

In the original social media post, the Australian player in question made a correct statement of the Christian understanding of salvation, basing his comments on a passage from the New Testament. This understanding of salvation has been held by all branches of the Christian Church (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox & Independent) for over 2 millennia. Mr Vunipola’s support for this post is no more homophobic than it is adulterophobic (therefore heterophobic), or kleptophobic, or atheist-ophobic … or anything else – ophobic(!).

I always thought that the UK was a country that believed in Freedom of Speech, Thought, Conscience and Religion. Indeed, it is a Human Right to manifest your religious beliefs in public or private. I wonder if Mr Vunipola were, say, a Muslim would he be treated in this way by you?

I assume that as the RFU, you regard yourself as a secular institution. As such, you have no right to adjudicate on the validity of anyone’s religious beliefs. It is not your role, or competency.

In your statement, you state that Mr Vunipola has been given a formal warning under  RFU rule 5.12 for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game.  However, Nothing that Mr Vunipola has said or indicated in his support for the Australian player contradicts this. He has not said that homosexuals or adulterers or thieves (or any other category of person) should not be allowed to play Rugby or represent their country. He has simply made a statement consistent with his faith as a Christian. I assume that you do not wish to imply that being a Christian is prejudicial to the interests of the game of Rugby?

If it is indeed the case that you wish Rugby to be a game that is open to all people, then in this incident you have made it quite clear that the RFU is not open to Bible-believing Christians (not to mention Koran-believing Muslims, or Torah-believing Jews … or anybody else who just values the right to be able to think for themselves).

Thank you for listening to my concerns. I hope they will give you some cause to ponder your actions in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

John Armstrong

Rector of St Mary’s Wombwell, South Yorkshire

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