On August 30, 2013, FOX Sports Southwest announced that Craig James, former ESPN and CBS broadcaster, and former SMU and NFL tailback, would be joining their college football analysis team.
After just one day on air, James was called into FSSW GM Jon Heidtke’s office and summarily fired. His offense? It seems someone higher up in the organization discovered comments James had made concerning same sex marriage during his 2012 senate bid.
James told Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro:
“I was shocked that my personal religious beliefs were not only the reason for Fox Sports firing me but I was completely floored when I read stories quoting Fox Sports representatives essentially saying that people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports,” James told Breitbart News. “That is not right and surely someone made a terrible mistake.”
James continued, “I have worked in broadcasting for twenty-four years and have always treated my colleagues with respect and dignity regardless of their background or personal beliefs. I believe it is essential in our business to maintain professional relationships with people from a diverse background and have tolerance for those of different beliefs. I have never discussed my faith while broadcasting and it has never been an issue until now.”
Yes that’s right. Craig James made no inflammatory comments on air, proffered no derogatory or disrespectful conversation with co-workers. What was the setting of the unforgivable statement?
In one of his primary debates in April 2012, James, along with the other candidates, was asked about same-sex marriage. After now-Senator Ted Cruz said that he opposed same-sex marriage, James expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage, and then discussed his religious perspective on same-sex activity: “People choose to be gay…I think it’s a choice. I do.
Sam- sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, that’s done. And God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions. And in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.”
James explicitly included himself and all other human beings as those judged by God. James’s positions on other social issues are similarly traditionally religious. On abortion, for example, James’s campaign website stated, “I believe that life is precious and must be protected—especially in the womb. Therefore, I am adamantly opposed to abortion.”
So Craig James openly and honestly defined his firmly held beliefs that traditional marriage and life are both sacred, in the context of a senatorial candidate debate. Those are the same beliefs that millions of Americans of faith espouse.
But for Jon Heidtke and Fox Sports SW, apparently those beliefs are unacceptable.
The announcement of Craig’s termination was reported by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch:
“Craig James will not be making any further appearances on Fox Sports Southwest’s football coverage this season.”
A Fox spokesperson also issued a clarifying statement to Dallas Morning News:
“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.”
As Ben Shapiro summarizes:
This is not just a blatant case of religious discrimination in violation of law. It is not merely an example of yet another step in the media’s attempt to silence those of a traditional perspective on same-sex marriage. It is a story that traces up much higher in the national FOX Sports organization than the regional network.
These actions toward Craig James should be an affront to every citizen, and certainly every person of faith in America: he was not fired for an action or egregious commentary, he was fired for a biblically supported, traditional Christian worldview.
Liberty Institute is representing Craig James and they need your help. And know this — helping James will help set precedence for every American who holds a Judeo-Christian worldview.