This story is refreshing:
Jaelene Hinkle’s decision not to play for the U.S. women’s national soccer team last summer was, she said, a simple one. Because of her religious beliefs, and a decision by U.S. Soccer to highlight LGBTQ pride month with special jerseys during their June 2017 friendlies, Hinkle declined a call-up from the team, something she said she had dreamed about her entire life.
Note she didn’t make a fuss, or refuse to wear the jersey at a critical moment. She just passed up the opportunity to play for the national team because they wanted her to wear a gay pride shirt, and this went against her religious beliefs. This is her right, and given the sacrifice involved I’m somewhat impressed by the strength of her convictions.
She is playing for the North Carolina Courage in the National Women’s Soccer League; during a game Wednesday night against the Portland Thorns in Oregon, fans booed Hinkle, while some waved pride flags. One fan carried a sign with the words “personal reasons” — the reason publicly cited when Hinkle declined the call-up last year — in rainbow letters.
So fans booed her. A bit intolerant, but no big deal. And given this is women’s football, those pride flags might have been waving as a matter of course. But this is refreshing:
Hinkle did not speak after the match, but teammate Jessica McDonald expressed support for her. “She is high on her faith, and in my honest [opinion] that’s absolutely incredible,” McDonald said, according to the Associated Press. “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. Everyone has their opinions about the Bible and God. It’s obviously not in my control what she thinks.
Blimey! Tolerance for other’s beliefs? I think I’ve just stepped back in time.
“At the end of the day, I’m still going to be friends with her. We have no problems with each other. She’s never said anything bad about me. She never said anything bad about anybody. So, for people to pass on that kind of judgment on another human being, I think it’s sort of uncalled for. She’s got her opinions. That’s fine. Everybody does. It hasn’t affected our team at all.”
A footballer seems to be showing more maturity than the whole of western academia combined.
Paul Riley, who coaches the Courage, said he heard the boos Wednesday, and that he supports his player.
“She’s got a good heart, and she battled through the game. It’s not an easy thing for her,” Riley said, according to the AP. “I give her a lot of credit, to be perfectly honest. Whatever her beliefs are, whatever she believes in, that’s her. It doesn’t affect the team. It doesn’t seem to affect anybody on the team.”
I think I need a lie down.
Now, contrast that story with this one:
Wallabies superstar Israel Folau has again created controversy on social media, after posting a seemingly homophobic Instagram comment.
Folau posted an image on Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday night in reference to his latest injury setback, comparing an individual’s plan to God’s plan.
Instagram user @mike_sephton commented on the image, writing: “@izzyfolau, what was gods (sic) plan for gay people??”.
Folau replied: “HELL…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
New Zealand’s players have added to the criticism of Australia full-back Israel Folau over anti-gay comments.
TJ Perenara, who has 42 caps, has joined fellow scrum-half Brad Weber in condemning his remarks.
“Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not OK to say that,” he said on Twitter.
“It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.
Sorry, but what’s harmful about these comments? For a start, Folau was merely answering a question put to him on social media, not standing up and declaring a formal position. What was he supposed to do, lie? He’s a Christian, and many Christians believe – rightly or wrongly – that homosexuality is a sin and its practitioners will go to hell. Aren’t we supposed to respect the religious views and practices of others? Or does that only apply to certain religions? We know the answer to that one. And in any case, if you don’t share Folau’s Christian beliefs, why do you believe in hell?
“As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people.”
And why would a player with strong Christian views not make as good a role model as one who is pro-gay?
Rugby Australia said it would not punish Folau for the remarks,
I expect because he is both very good and very popular. But good on them to resist calls for him to be punished.
but Waikato Chiefs player Weber earlier posted on Twitter: “Sick of us players staying quiet on some of this stuff. I can’t stand that I have to play this game that I love with people, like Folau, who say what he’s saying.”
So you don’t want to play rugby with people who hold certain beliefs. Note Folau didn’t say he hates gays, or doesn’t want to play with them. He simply said, in response to a question, he thought they’d end up in hell. For my part, I’m confident I’m going to end up in hell along with half my friends, this really isn’t something I worry too much about and nor should anyone.
“My cousin and her partner, and my aunty and her partner are some of the most kind, caring and loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Did Folau suggest they weren’t?
“To think that I play against someone that says they’ll go to hell for being gay disgusts me.”
Did Folau say he’s disgusted? Did he say he doesn’t want to play against anyone in particular? No, yet he’s supposedly the intolerant one. Folau has written a lengthy statement here which quite clearly lays out his religious beliefs and how they relate to sin and repentance – of any kind. If these beliefs are outlawed, we might as well ban Christianity. Perhaps that’s the plan?
Other players have thankfully taken a more mature approach:
David Pocock and Israel Folau might disagree fundamentally on the issue of LGBT rights but the Wallabies are united in believing their diametrically opposed views will not have an impact on the Australia team.
Pocock … was an outspoken advocate for equal marriage rights for same sex couples ahead of last year’s Australian referendum on the matter and has in the past called out homophobic abuse on the field of play.
“There’s nothing personal towards each other,” the fullback told reporters in Brisbane.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him … we’re both grown men and talk about things openly. We just had an open chat about our different beliefs.
“We respect each other. It doesn’t change the way we feel about each other. It won’t change anything when we step out onto the field. I’ll be there to cover him and same with him. We’re 100 percent behind each other.”
“I’ve got family who have those views and we’ve had it out over the years,” Pocock told Fairfax Media in Canberra after the match.
“The bottom line is they’re family. You talk about it in a civil way … and when you do that you realise we’ve got far more common ground than we have in difference of belief.
“I just don’t see who wins if we aren’t able to relate to each other as humans and keep talking about things rather than having these really nasty polarising debates to decide who is and isn’t part of our tribe based on their beliefs.
“We all lose something when we aren’t able to engage with people just because we disagree on something.”
Now up until this point I thought David Pocock was the most self-righteous prick to ever set foot on a rugby field, but full credit to him for the maturity and tolerance he’s shown here. Maybe he’s picked up some ideas watching American women’s soccer? The Kiwis could certainly learn something from them.