As the U.S. Women’s World Cup champions continue to celebrate their recent triumph, some observers are wondering whether a top-tier American player was left off the team because of her religious views.
Jaelene Hinkle, 26, a native of Colorado who played college soccer at Texas Tech, is a defender for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League.
In 2018, Hinkle helped her team win the NWSL championship and helped it win a title in 2016, when it was known as the Western New York Flash.
But in 2015, Hinkle had objected publicly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
“I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true,” Hinkle wrote on Instagram at the time. “This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will.”
Jesus didn't come to save those who already believed in Him. He came so that the lost, rejected, and abandoned men and women would find Him and believe. I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true. It's not a fictional book. It's not a pick and choose what you want to believe. You either believe it, or you don't. This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will. My heart is that as Christians we don't begin to throw a tantrum over what has been brought into law today, but we become that much more loving. That through our love, the lost, rejected, and abandoned find Christ. The rainbow was a convent made between God and all his creation that never again would the world be flooded as it was when He destroyed the world during Noah's time. It's a constant reminder that no matter how corrupt this world becomes, He will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you Lord for your amazing grace, even during times of trial and confusion. Love won over 2,000 years ago when the greatest sacrifice of all time was made for ALL mankind. ❤️💜💛💚💙
Then, in 2017 Hinkle drew criticism when she declined to play in two matches for the U.S. women’s national team, reportedly because she didn’t want to wear special team jerseys recognizing Gay Pride Month.
'It wasn't my job'
She later told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” that she opposed the jerseys for religious reasons.
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle told the program. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey. I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”
Shortly after the interview aired, Hinkle was loudly booed in liberal Portland, Ore., when her North Carolina Courage team played against the Portland Thorns, the Irish Times reported.
Contrast with Rapinoe
Later, Hinkle was dropped from the U.S. national team for reasons solely related to soccer, team officials claimed, according to the newspaper. But the report noted that Hinkle’s public persona contrasts sharply with that of Team USA captain Megan Rapinoe, who also plays in the NWSL.
While Hinkle stands by her religious beliefs, the Times noted, Rapinoe has drawn public attention for such gestures as supporting former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests and for posing nude with her girlfriend, WNBA basketball player Sue Bird.
But Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator, and John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Colorado Springs, Colo., doubt that Hinkle was cut solely for soccer reasons, the Washington Times reported. They believe Hinkle was dropped because of her religious views.
“If we were talking about just any player, it wouldn’t be really clear,” Stonestreet told the newspaper. “But just because of her abilities – Jaelene Hinkle is a heck of a player – it makes it that much more suspect.”
“If we were talking about just any player, it wouldn’t be really clear. But just because of her abilities – Jaelene Hinkle is a heck of a player – it makes it that much more suspect.”
SB Nation's Kim McCauley asserted that Hinkle was likely invited to try out for the national team only to prevent a lawsuit, the Christian Post reported.
But Hinkle herself doesn’t seem too rattled by the decision to be left off the U.S. roster. As she told “The 700 Club”: “If I never get another national team call-up again then that’s just a part of [God’s] plan, and that’s OK."