Ashlyn Harris denounces claim USWNT isn't 'welcoming to Christians' after old Jaelene Hinkle remarks recirculate

United States goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris is introduced during a send-off ceremony ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup after an international friendly soccer match against Mexico, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Harrison, N.J. The U.S. won 3-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
United States goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris took issue with the claim the women's national team isn't accepting to Christians. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

United States women’s national team backup goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris took on a tweet claiming the team omitted one of the NWSL’s best left backs because she was a Christian.

Jaelene Hinkle, a member of the North Carolina Courage, was unsurprisingly left off the roster in May for reasons “solely based on soccer,” head coach Jill Ellis said, but many have alleged it’s religious discrimination. Hinkle controversially declined a national team call-up in 2017 because she didn’t want to wear the LGBTQ Pride Month jerseys.

The issue hasn’t been raised since, until a tweet of a year-old interview with Hinkle started to make the rounds again Sunday.

Harris: religion isn’t problem, intolerance is

Obianuju Ekeocha, a public speaker and founder of Culture of Life Africa, shared an old video Sunday on Twitter of Hinkle on CBN’s “The 700 Club.” The clip is from the end, when Hinkle speaks about being called up to the national team and then declining it since they were wearing LGBTQ Pride Month jerseys.

“I felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear” the USWNT jersey with rainbow numbers, she said in the clip from June 2018.

“I’m essentially giving up the one little girl’s dream about their entire life, and I’m saying no to [it]. It was very disappointing.”

Ekeocha wrote that “Apparently, the US women’s Football team is not a very welcoming place for Christians.” The remark was not prompted by anything current Hinkle said or did, or by any recent news coverage of the year-old comments.

Harris got a hold of it Monday and replied in a two-part tweet.

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“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.

Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians.’ You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our teams. Same on you.”

Harris is one of the many lesbians on the team and is engaged to teammate Ali Krieger. Megan Rapinoe, who is famously dating WNBA superstar Sue Bird, referenced inclusion in her speech at the victory parade ceremony in New York City one week ago.

Hinkle left off USWNT World Cup roster

Hinkle is seen by some as the best left back in the NWSL, with her North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley telling Yahoo Sports last July she was the best at the position in the league “by a country mile.”

Yet her omission from the 23-player roster was not surprising given she hadn’t played with the national team in more than three years and declined the first of two invitations to the team in that span. After saying no for “personal reasons,” which she later confirmed to “The 700 Club” were due to the jerseys, Hinkle spent three days with the team ahead of the 2018 Tournament of Nations that year.

She was cut to bring the team down to its mandated 23-person roster and never made it back to the team. While viewed as the league’s best left back, she was not named to the NWSL Best XI or Second XI and Ellis chose not to select a natural left back for the tournament. Ellis went with Crystal Dunn and Tierna Davidson.

Riley told Yahoo Sports last year he believes it was a soccer decision, even though he believes she’s good enough for the team.

The Courage is 6-2-4 and includes USWNT World Cup champions Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis.

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