Soccer Star’s Christian Beliefs May Have Cost Her Place on US National Team

By Zachary Stieber

An American soccer star was reportedly left off the U.S. women’s national team because of her Christian beliefs.

Jaelene Hinkle, 26, plays professionally for the North Carolina Courage team and has been labeled by some as one of the top players in the nation.

But she appears to have been left off the national team after declining a call-up from the national team because of her religious beliefs.

In 2017, Hinkle declined the call-up after learning players would be wearing rainbow jerseys to honor Gay Pride Month.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” she told “The 700 Club” in a May 2018 interview. “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.

Hinkle had also posted on Instagram objecting to the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, writing: “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,” she added.

US team mates celebrate winning the women's world cup
Carli Lloyd of the United States and team mates celebrate winning the women’s world cup with the trophy at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, on July 7, 2019. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

After Hinkle announced why she declined the call-up, she played in a game for the Courage in Oregon and was booed, according to The Associated Press.

Her teammate, Jessica McDonald, defended her.

“She is high on her faith, and in my honest [opinion] that’s absolutely incredible,” McDonald said. “If she’s for God, then that’s fine, that’s great if that’s what keeps her going in her life and keeps positivity in her life, then let that be.”

Hinkle was called up to a training camp ahead of a 2018 tournament but was cut after three days by U.S. head coach Jill Ellis.

Jill Ellis in a file photo. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The final roster for the 2019 World Cup was released by the United States on May 1 and announced with other squads by FIFA in late May.

Ellis told reporters in a conference call on May 2 that Hinkle’s cut was “solely based on soccer,” according to Yahoo Sports.

“We had Jaelene in,” Ellis said, referencing past camps. “Got a chance to look. … Had a lot of players. And when I look at the experience and the depth and the versatility, that’s where my decision is led.”

Multiple members of the U.S. national team are gay, including its captain, Megan Rapinoe. Ellis herself is as well.

Two reporters for SB Nation and Buzzfeed are among those who suggested Hinkle was left off because of her beliefs.

“Let’s take a second to think about how Jaelene Hinkle might have missed out on winning a World Cup bc she is homophobic,” wrote one, Molly Hensley-Clancy.

Among those wondering if Hinkle’s Christian beliefs played a part in her exclusion from the team was John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“You do have a very activist team. It’s very much a part of the program,” Stonestreet told The Washington Times. “And 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.”