The Ironic Atheism of Megan Rapinoe

Rapinoe and her misguided activism serve as evidence of the image of God, not against it.

By Corey Kendig


During a recent soccer game, Megan Rapinoe, a national team women’s soccer player, tore her Achilles tendon. The timing was indeed unfortunate—sadly for Rapinoe, this was her last game ever as a member of the national soccer team, as she had previously announced that this season would be her last. After the game, Rapinoe took to the podium to voice her frustration over the injury. During her comments she remarked, “I’m not a religious person or anything, and if there was a god, this is proof that there isn’t.”

The comment came from a place of frustration, and Rapinoe was rightfully angry. She is a two time world cup champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and a co-captain of the team. As sad as the conclusion of her career was, however, her statements were certainly uncalled for and her anger towards God was undeniably misplaced.


A Controversial Figure

Rapinoe has gained a reputation as a social justice warrior during her time on the national team. Rapinoe has come out as a lesbian who supports LGBTQ+ rights, an advocate for women’s equality, and a racial justice supporter. With this in mind, it was no surprise when she took a potshot at religion by saying her injury was counter evidence to theism. Yet, there is a great irony in Rapinoe’s statement: her life serves as a shining evidence of God’s hand.


Missing Pieces

What Rapinoe is referring to when she said that there is no God is a version of what’s called the “Logical Problem of Evil”: since something evil happened, then an all powerful and perfect God can not exist.

Yet, those who, like Rapinoe, ground their atheism in the logical problem of evil fail to take into account two possible alternatives to why a perfect and all powerful God allows evil. The first is the idea of “soul building.” Soul building, described by pastor Stuart Knechtle, argues that we can not know why God allows evil, but we can say that he allows it for good purposes. Knechtle, in a video on Rapinoe, says: “God can have great reasons to allow suffering, for example growth in character, perseverance, closeness with him, [and] growth in empathy for others.”


Free Will

The other argument for why evil and an all-powerful perfect God can co-exist is that humans have free will. If God did not want to force humans to love him, he must give them a choice. That choice requires free will; free will gives us the ability to sin and thus cause evil in the world. The University of Notre Dame says that, “free will is a great good, and it is impossible for God to give us free will without allowing evil. So, God allows evil to exist. It is obviously a crucial part of this objection that it is impossible for God to both give us free will and prevent any evil from occurring.”

Obviously, Rapinoe’s denial of God due to her injury was not going to unravel two millennia of Christian theology. God and evil are able to co-exist. I would even argue that evil is a by-product of our separation from God.


The Great Irony

While Rapinoe is certainly not a theologian, her statements are ironic even after we consider her ill-informed statements. Rapinoe’s career may have ended on a sad note. Yet, her entire soccer career has been dedicated to more than just playing soccer. Rapinoe has dedicated her fame to trying to fight injustice.

Now you and I may disagree with what and where Rapinoe finds injustice, but she is nonetheless standing against inequality. Rapinoe admits there are causes larger than herself, such as justice. In an interview, Rapinoe stated, “we have a unique opportunity in football different to any other sport in the world to use this beautiful game to actually change the world for better.” Undeniably there is a larger purpose in life than just playing soccer to Rapinoe. She believes that purpose is to bring justice, but where does that sense of justice come from.


Transcendent Justice

Justice is not something that is seen in the natural world. If you asked Rapinoe where her sense of justice comes from, she would probably tell you that she was born with it. I would go a step further: she was created with it. 

As Christians, we believe that God created humans with imago Dei— the image of God. Being created in his image means that we share attributes with God, such as a sense for justice. Atheists struggle with the notion of justice, since there is no scientific or empirical reason people should desire justice to rule the world. Yet, Christians understand that it is because we are created in the image of God that we crave justice to be served.

Rapinoe shows that she was created in the image of God because she, too, craves for justice to be served. Whether she likes it or not, her misguided activism serves as evidence that we were created with a purpose and in the image of God. As hard as she may rebel against it, Megan Rapinoe was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and it’s heartbreaking that she doesn’t recognize how obvious it is.


About the Author

Corey Kendig is a senior history and political science major from Marietta, Pennsylvania, and the head editor for Checkpoint News. He is the Executive Citations Editor at the Grove City Journal of Law & Public Policy. Corey is also a member of the American Enterprise Institute Collegiate Network.

Corey writes as a freelance journalist for several publications. He has written for notable organizations such as The Federalist, College Fix, and the James G. Martin Institute. He has interned at the United States House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Family Institute. He is a Marketing Fellow with the Institute for Faith & Freedom. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.