‘The city fired him for nothing other than his faith’
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed erupted on Facebook against his fire chief’s personally published book several weeks ago, declaring Kelvin Cochran’s writings “deeply disturbed” him. Reed threatened he would not “tolerate discrimination of any kind” and suspended Cochran.
An investigation cleared Cochran of the discrimination charges, but when his suspension was over, Reed fired him.
Now, one of the nation’s most influential teams of attorneys defending individual and religious rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom, says it is taking up Reed’s case.
“The city fired him for nothing other than his faith, and that’s not constitutional,” said Kevin Theriot, a senior counsel for ADF. “We are currently assessing the legal options available to vindicate his rights to free speech and freedom of religion.”
Fox News recently profiled the case, noting Cochran is a “decorated firefighter” who had both Atlanta municipal and federal positions.
“He is also a devout Christian. He’s a deacon at a Baptist church and also teaches Sunday school. But all accounts – he is a decent and honorable man,” Fox reported.
Reed criticized the biblical stance Cochran took in his book, titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” But the mayor insisted Cochran was not fired because of his religious beliefs.
Instead, it was his “poor judgment.”
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” Theriot said. “That’s what a federal appeals court said not long ago about public officials who claim to love diversity while only tolerating views they themselves favor. Chief Cochran served the city of Atlanta with distinction, both before and after his post with the Obama administration.”
ADF pointed out that the city had granted Cochran permission to publish his Christian book. But then it refused to tolerate the view that sex is reserved exclusively for marriage, the union of one man and one woman.
The city of Atlanta was under pressure, with media including the New York Times editorial board declaring it didn’t matter that Cochran didn’t mistreat “gays” or lesbians, he needed to be held “to a different standard.”
Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director Robert White told Fox News that sounded like a seriously troubled opinion.
“It declares his innocence and then declares him guilty,” he said. “Guilty of what? He didn’t discriminate against any homosexuals. He vowed that he wanted to have a healthy work place for all of his employees.”
Written by BOB UNRUH
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