Craig James has filed suit against Fox Sports for religious discrimination

Dr. Saturday
FILE - In this May 24, 2012 file photo, Texas Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Craig James gestures during a press conference in Houston. James says Fox Sports hit him with a "sucker punch" _ inviting him to join a regional college football show, then firing him and telling the media he was too polarizing for TV. The longtime broadcaster and SMU star has accused Fox of discriminating against him due to his views opposing gay marriage, which he stated during a failed campaign two years ago for U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)
FILE - In this May 24, 2012 file photo, Texas Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Craig James gestures during a press conference in Houston. James says Fox Sports hit him with a "sucker punch" _ inviting him to join a regional college football show, then firing him and telling the media he was too polarizing for TV. The longtime broadcaster and SMU star has accused Fox of discriminating against him due to his views opposing gay marriage, which he stated during a failed campaign two years ago for U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

Former broadcaster Craig James is suing Fox Sports in Dallas for religious discrimination.

In 2013, Fox Sports Southwest fired James two days after it hired him upon learning of a statement he made in 2012 while running for the U.S. Senate. During a debate that involved Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Ted Cruz, James said that being gay is a choice and that “right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade.”

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Fox Sports Southwest Senior Vice President of Communications Lou D’Ermilio took issue with the comments.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.”

The suit, which was filed Monday morning, claimed James was fired “because of his religious beliefs about marriage and his expression of those beliefs.”

James, who was a star running back at SMU in the 1980s, claimed that what he said during a debate as a political candidate should have had no bearing on his ability to be a football analyst.

“This is very troubling as an employee when your boss holds against you something you said about your belief system nearly 18 months before you were recruited and hired,” James told Breitbart Sports. “I said nothing about my belief system on the air at Fox Sports. So, the fact that they reached back in my past nearly eighteen months and responded to a comment about my biblical belief in natural marriage as a candidate — that’s troubling.”

The suit also says James should not be punished for his beliefs and that he loves all people.

“Craig James is a man of faith and integrity, which calls him foremost to show love and kindness to all those around him, regardless of whether they share his beliefs. According to his faith, all people possess intrinsic value, and all people deserve love and respect—including the freedom not to be judged, penalized, or punished for their beliefs. James has personal friends, family members, and professional colleagues on both sides of marriage and family issues, some of whom are themselves gay, lesbian, and transgender. James respects others, including those who disagree with him, as he has throughout his career, and merely hopes for the same respect in turn.”

Fox Sports issued a statement Monday saying it stood by its decision to let James go.

As we have previously stated, Craig James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community and the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda. The decision had nothing to do with Mr. James’ religious beliefs and we did not discriminate against Mr. James in any way. The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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