Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran claims he was terminated due to his religious beliefs and that his First Amendment rights were violated. However, the City of Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed hold firm that Cochran “was fired because he did not comply with the City’s pre-clearance rules for outside employment and for facilitating a massive public relations campaign agains the Mayor and the City.”
Cochran, a chief operating officer of the Atlanta-based Elizabeth Baptist Church, wrote in preparation of a November news conference, “In my life I have experienced firsthand the negative attitudes, racial slurs, and discrimination because of the color of my skin.” He created the Atlanta Fire Rescue Doctrine in an effort to create a just and peaceful work environment for all.
Before his post in Atlanta, Cochran’s career accolades include an appointment as theUS Fire Administrator by President Obama in 2009, and one of the first African American members, and later chief of the Shreveport Fire Department.
Faith and Freedom Coalition spokesperson Robert Potts stated, “In our country we don't punish people for the potential to discriminate we punish them for actually discriminating. To our knowledge unless the mayor knows about it and hasn't said so there's no allegation to speak of.” The organization exists to defend what they believe to be great American virtuesof faith, hard work, marriage, family, personal responsibility, and helping the least amount us.
The book that started this firestorm, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” was written by Cochran in an effort to help Christian menbecome better husbands and fathers. Though the book was written with admirable intent, Cochran’s alignment with the Scriptures in regard to homosexuality have offended the LGBT community. Local Atlanta news reported that “In an EEOC complaint, Cochran said that on Nov. 24, 2014, he was informed by city officials that publication of the book violated unspecified city policies, and that he was being suspended without pay.”
Though the city holds firm that he was not fired for his religious beliefs, Cochran commented to local news that he was "informed that since my faith influenced my leadership style, as well as other issues concerning my book, I was given a choice to resign or be terminated."
ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot addressed concerns about city officials having the power to grant permission for its employees to seek publication of their private beliefs. “This ruling benefits not only Chief Cochran, but also other employees who want to write books or speak about matters unrelated to work. Atlanta can no longer force them to get permission or deny them permission just because certain officials disagree with the views expressed.”
Publication date: December 22, 2017