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FIRST-PERSON: Craig James, unemployable?

DALLAS (BP) — A sports broadcaster, 24 years in the business, is in a battle for his religious liberty and that of his fellow citizens. He is former NFL and Southern Methodist University star Craig James.

Not long ago, FOX Sports Southwest hired Mr. James to appear on Saturday postgame shows and some segments of its “Big 12 Live” wrap-up. Executive producer Mike Anastassiou said James is “a talented broadcaster who I’ve admired throughout his career. His knowledge of college football and the experience he brings as an analyst will be a tremendous asset to our coverage.”

Craig James’ first broadcast was Aug. 31. It went well. On Sept. 1, James was fired.

One day the higher-ups at FOX admired Craig James. The next day they didn’t, terminating him after only one show and not for anything he did on the job. He was fired for holding the traditional Christian belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

Besides being an athlete and broadcaster, Craig James is a successful businessman and he’s even dabbled in politics. In 2012, James ran to represent the state of Texas in the U.S. Senate. It was a crowded primary. The guy who won it is now-Sen. Ted Cruz. At a debate, the candidates were asked about their views on same-sex marriage. In his response, Craig James articulated a view of marriage held by the majority of Americans and the vast majority of Texans. He said he opposed same-sex marriage, that homosexual behavior is sinful and that, “God’s going to judge each one of us in the room for our actions.”

A FOX spokesperson told the 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.” FOX later denied the dismissal was due to Mr. James’ religious beliefs, saying it “was simply because he was not a good fit for FOX Sports.”

Craig James told Breitbart News, “I have never discussed my faith while broadcasting and it has never been an issue until now.”

An article on James’ firing by Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic was powerful. This young writer supports same-sex marriage. But he’s appalled at what’s happening to James.

Friedersdorf wrote: “There are millions of Americans who think homosexuality is a sin. Is the implication that if any of them dare express that view out loud, they ought to be unemployable? If not, why would James be denied his job? What profession is farther removed from the controversy than college-football analysis …?”

Craig James’ attorneys at Liberty Institute are asking FOX Sports to reinstate him. There will be a hearing in Texas soon to get to the bottom of the situation and find out who did what at FOX. You can keep up with this at libertyinstitute.org.

Believers, we should be grateful that Craig James decided not to let this go but is standing for religious liberty.
Penna Dexter is a regular panelist and frequent guest host of “Point of View,” a nationally syndicated issues-oriented talk radio program. Her weekly radio commentaries air on the Moody Broadcasting Network and Bott Radio Network. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Penna Dexter