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Ashlyn Harris hits back at claim USWNT doesn’t welcome Christianity

The U.S. goalkeeper spoke out when someone recirculated an old video of Jaelene Hinkle, who declined a USWNT call-up two years ago because she did not want to wear a Pride-themed jersey in support of LGBTQ rights.

players gather after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
United States players gather after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

The United States women’s national team’s World Cup win last week brought more attention to the team than ever before.

And when that increased interest resurfaced an old video of Jaelene Hinkle, who declined a national team call-up two years ago because she did not want to wear the jerseys used to honor LGBTQ rights during Pride month, U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris sounded off on Twitter. 

“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,” Harris said Monday in response to the video being shared again by author and pro-life advocate Obianuju Ekeocha.

Ekeocha tweeted the video, saying she was curious to know what happened to Hinkle and “apparently, the US women’s Football team is not a very welcoming place for Christians.”

The USWNT has some high-profile and outspoken Christians on the team, including Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath. Players also knelt in prayer circles before and after each 2019 World Cup game. There are many openly gay players on the team as well, including Harris and her fiancée Ali Krieger.

“Don’t you dare say our team is ‘not a welcoming place for Christians,’” Harris continued on social media. “You weren’t around long enough to know what this team stood for. This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team. S[h]ame on you.”

Hinkle, 26, plays for the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League. She had eight U.S. appearances between 2015-17. She has been called into camp once since, but she was cut from the final roster for the 2018 Tournament of Nations.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle said during a 2018 interview with the 700 Club. “I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their entire lives. It was very disappointing.

“I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient.”

U.S. coach Jill Ellis was criticized by some for leaving out Hinkle, among the NWSL’s best left backs. Ellis said Hinkle’s exclusion from the team the last two years was based solely on soccer, not religion. Ellis also emphasized the team’s need for depth and versatility leading into a World Cup year and choosing players with the flexibility to be featured in multiple positions. 

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