“Atlanta’s Kelvin Cochran knows all about fire — but being fired? That’s a whole new experience — one Cochran hopes other Christians never face. The long-time member of the city’s Fire Rescue Department was forced out of the squad in a shocking display of anti-religious prejudice after a distinguished career that [sic] an appointment by the Obama administration as the U.S. Fire Administrator. Unfortunately for Cochran, Mayor Kasim Reed seems intent on making an example of the African-American, who self-published a book — with the permission of the mayor’s office — on biblical morality. After chatting with a handful of Christian co-workers, Kelvin offered them copies of Who Told You That You Were Naked? which includes a chapter on human sexuality that’s consistent with the Bible’s teaching on the subject. Despite the fact that Cochran had his superiors’ approval, and despite the fact that he only gave the book to friends, he was suspended late last year — until yesterday, when the Mayor fired him. Obviously, it’s one thing to use your platform to intimidate subordinates, but the idea that you should have to surrender your First Amendment rights merely for being a public servant is outrageous. What’s to prevent the government from going after another employer or contractor?” – Hate group leader Tony Perkins, in a press release that fails to report that Mayor Reed’s office denies having been notified about the book.
FRC staffer Travis Weber picks up the story in a posting on their blog today:
In essence, the chief was fired by the mayor and his allies because (if they were honest) they “think he might discriminate against gay people.” Never mind there is zero evidence of any such discrimination. Simply put, no one can point to any adverse action Chief Cochran has ever taken against someone based on their homosexuality! If they could, we certainly would have heard about it, given the frenzied fears of “potential” future discrimination and a “possible” hostile work environment. But because that’s all the mayor and his allies have to go on, all we’ve heard about is the “possibility” of future discrimination. This is a clear case of someone being eliminated from their position because of their views alone. This is even worse than other recent cases of disapproval of orthodox Christian views among public figures in the United States. Without exaggeration, we can say we have just seen the government monitoring personal expression for approval or disapproval, backed up by power of law.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has made clear, Cochran “forced his own firing” by going on a speaking tour of churches during his suspension where he declared (to great applause, no doubt) that he would continue to proselytize at the workplace upon his return. The FRC has launched a pro-Cochran petition as have the anti-gay Faith Driven Consumer, who writes:
People of faith in Atlanta have been sent a clear message — unless you agree with the mayor and his point of view, you could be subject to persecution. Concerned citizens aware of similar actions taking place in other parts of the world where human rights are not respected, but are stunned to learn this is happening not only in America, but also in the very city that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born and raised. “We are calling on Mayor Reed to immediately reinstate Chief Cochran, to apologize for his actions, and to take specific steps to ensure that no person of faith in Atlanta will be singled out by his administration simply due to the expression of their religious convictions. The people of Atlanta and America will not stand for intolerance, inequality, and flagrant bigotry. We are demanding Equal Application of Equal Protection for all people — including people of faith.