A member of the U.S. Women’s National Team called another top U.S. player, Jaelene Hinkle, “homophobic” after the team was accused of being unwelcoming to Christians.
Ashlyn Harris, a goalkeeper and two-time World Cup champion, lashed out at Hinkle on Twitter Monday after a third person unrelated to U.S. soccer, Obianuju Ekeocha of the philanthropic group Culture of Life Africa, tweeted that the team was “not a very welcoming place for Christians,” citing the Hinkle case.
Hinkle drew headlines a year ago for saying she turned down a chance to play for the USWNT because she didn’t want to wear the team’s rainbow pride jersey, citing her Christian faith, but has said nothing publicly about the issue in recent months.
Even so, Harris aimed her jab at Hinkle, tweeting, “Hinkle, our team is about inclusion.”
“Your religion was never the problem,” said Harris, one of five openly lesbian players on the World Cup team. “The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together. You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.”
Hinkle, our team is about inclusion. Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together. You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for. https://t.co/XmzKIB88UV
— Ashlyn Harris (@Ashlyn_Harris) July 15, 2019
A number of conservative Christians have championed Hinkle, while Harris argued that the USWNT has Christian players.
In her May 2018 interview with the 700 Club, Hinkle acknowledged she was “giving up the one dream little girls dream about,” but did not say that the team was unwelcoming.
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” said Hinkle in the interview. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what [God] was asking me to do in this situation.”
Ekeocha cited the 700 Club interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, saying she was “very curious to know what happened so I went in search of her interview on CBN.”
“Apparently the US women’s Football team is not a very welcoming place for Christians,” said Ekeocha in her Sunday tweet.
Jaelene Hinkle, is the 26-year-old American footballer who gave up the opportunity to be in the USWNT. I was very curious to know what happened so I went in search of her interview with CBN. Apparently, the US women’s Football team is not a very welcoming place for Christians. pic.twitter.com/iWXrG4Dkcw
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) July 14, 2019
Although the comment was Ekeocha’s, not Hinkle’s, Harris addressed her retort to Hinkle.
“Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians,'” Harris tweeted. “You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team.”
Hinkle, who plays for the North Carolina Courage pro team, has been called the nation’s best left defender, but she was left off the women’s national team, which won this year’s World Cup.
Coach Jill Ellis told reporters that her decision was based purely on soccer considerations, although sportswriters and others have speculated that the jersey incident was a factor.
Hinkle has not played for the national team since she declined the call-up to play two international friendlies, which would have required her to wear the pride uniform, in 2017.
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