Was Christian Soccer Star Jaelene Hinkle Excluded From the World Cup Team Due to Her Faith?

July 30, 2016: Western New York Flash defender Jaelene Hinkle (15). Trask Smith/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

On Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) won the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time. One exceptional American player was not even on the team, however. Starting left back Jaelene Hinkle may have been excluded from the USWNT due to her Christian beliefs.

In 2017, USWNT manager Jill Ellis invited Hinkle to train with the team amid a shortage of other starters. Yet Hinkle pulled out of a game for “personal reasons,” after the team announced they would wear jerseys with a rainbow flag celebrating LGBT “pride.”

Speaking with The 700 Club in May 2018, she confirmed that she dropped out of the game due to the jerseys. “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” she said. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”

“I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their entire life. It was very disappointing,” she added. “And I think that’s where the peace trumps the disappointment, because I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient. Just because you’re obedient doesn’t make it easy … If I never get another national team call-up again then that’s just a part of [God’s] plan, and that’s OK.”

Over the past six years, Hinkle has been the starting left back for the Western New York Flash and the North Carolina Courage. Yet despite originally inviting Hinkle to train with the team, Ellis did not include her on it. Her current club manager, Courage head coach Paul Riley, said in 2017 Hinkle has “been the best left back in the league this year, of that there’s absolutely no question.”

After Ellis left Hinkle off the World Cup roster, she told reporters the decision was “solely based on soccer,” but that claim has been met with widespread skepticism.

On June 26, 2015, the same day the Supreme Court redefined marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, Hinkle spoke out against the LGBT movement using the rainbow as its symbol and adopting the phrase “Love wins.”

“The rainbow was a covenant 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,” Hinkle wrote on Instagram. “Love won over 2,000 years ago when the greatest sacrifice of all time was made for ALL mankind.”

The soccer star also encouraged Christians not to raise a fit after the ruling, but rather become more loving. “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,” she wrote.

Yet her opposition to same-sex marriage and the Obergefell decision came across loud and clear. At a club game last year, fans waving rainbow flags booed her.

SBNation’s Kim McCauley slammed Hinkle as “vocally homophobic,” and a real problem for “trying to make a team that has a gay coach, several queer players, and a lot of LGBT fans.” Yet McCauley admitted Hinkle was “probably the best left back available” to the USWNT. In fact, she said, “there isn’t a better pure tactical fit available.”

Jill Ellis, an open lesbian in a same-sex marriage, might have decided that Hinkle’s beliefs would have made it more difficult for the team to work together.

Yet USWNT forward Jessica McDonald stood up for the Christian player. “She’s never said anything bad about me. She never said anything bad about anybody,” she told The Oregonian. “So, for people to pass on that kind of judgment on another human being, I think it’s sort of uncalled for.”

Neither Hinkle nor the North Carolina Courage replied to multiple requests for comment from PJ Media.

Whether or not Hinkle was excluded from the USWNT for her faith, her decision to obey Jesus Christ more than pursuing her dreams is inspiring.

“If any man would follow after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” Jesus said (Mark 8:34). Christianity is not just about believing the gospel that Jesus died on the cross to save sinful human beings from their sin — it’s also about following the path of discipleship. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

While many Christians attempt to justify homosexual activity in the name of loving and accepting people, both the Old and New Testaments condemn homosexuality as sinful. That does not mean Christians judge LGBT people or claim to be holier than them. After all, Jesus condemned hypocrisy and told His followers to love their enemies.

In her 2015 Instagram post, Hinkle showed her ability to stand up for the truth while emphasizing love as well. Her alleged exclusion from the USWNT suggests once again that the true bigotry lies with the LGBT activists who can brook no disagreement.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.