By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Will James’s right to express his religious beliefs be upheld?
On September 1 Craig James, former ESPN and CBS broadcaster was fired by Fox Sports Southwest (FSSW) for his religious beliefs about same-sex marriage.
On August 30 Fox Sports Southwest announced that James would join the Fox College Saturday college football analysis team. A former Southern Methodist University and NFL football player, James was hired for the Saturday postgame shows with Erin Hartigan and former NFL quarterback Tony Banks, as well as for some segments of Fox Sports Southwest’s Big 12 live wrap-up.
His first day with Fox was August 31st and the following day, when the network became aware of James’s 2012 comments about same-sex marriage, they terminated his employment.
During an unsuccessful 2012 Senate campaign, James said, “People choose to be gay. … I think it’s a choice. I do. Same-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 also opposes abortion and adhere to the Texas Republican Party platform.
Following the termination Craig James released a statement, saying:
“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.
“I have worked in broadcasting for 24 years and have always treated my colleagues with respect and dignity regardless of their background or personal beliefs,” James continued. “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.”
Fox Sports issued this statement regarding James’s termination:
“At Fox Sports we respect all points of view, and despite reports to the contrary, the decision to no longer use Craig James in our college football coverage was simply because he was not a good fit for Fox Sports.
“Mr. James, while both experienced and knowledgeable, is a polarizing figure in the college sports community,” the statement continues. “Regrettably, the decision to use him was not properly vetted, and as a result he will no longer provide commentary on Fox Sports Southwest’s college football coverage.”
This past Tuesday, September 24, Liberty Institute sent a letter to Fox Sports officials on James’s behalf, demanding his immediate reinstatement.
“The termination of Craig James raises serious issues of religious discrimination, unlawful disparagement of the character of Craig James, malicious interference with his employment, and unlawful termination of your employment agreement with him.
“The decision to terminate Craig James because of Mr. James’s religious beliefs is a severe violation of Mr. James’s religious liberty … and an affront to all Americans who cherish that bedrock principle of American freedom,” the letter says.
It continues, “If you refuse to reinstate Mr. James, millions of Americans will be left with the impression that you do not respect religious liberty and Liberty Institute will be forced to pursue subsequent legal options.”
Now it’s time for the courts to decide. Do we as Christians have a right to voice our beliefs? Stay tuned for the outcome and pray that we all have the courage to speak God’s truth…whatever the consequences.
Remember the verses in Ephesians 6 that speak of putting on the full armor of God — the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, sandals of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). We have everything we need, along with prayer and supplication in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18) to stand firm in our faith. Paul continues in that passage to tell us what the full armor of God is to be used for….
that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
Pray for Craig James as he takes a firm stance on his right to boldly speak God’s truths. Trust that you too, by the power of God, will speak just as boldly!