Atlanta official issues ‘warning to all Americans’
Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was suspended in late November, then fired on Jan. 6 by Mayor Kasim Reed.
The plight of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has caught America’s attention, but he is just the latest Christian to have his career vaporized by something that was said or written, according to religious liberty advocates.
But, unlike the dozens of other Christians who have lost jobs or businesses because they dared to violate the sensitivities of the LGBT community, Cochran’s firing became a national story.
The fact that establishment media like the New York Times, ABC, NBC, CNN and others have reported the firing of Cochran is good, but it could also be bad.
The widespread coverage could signal that the media elites are sending a message to America that this is about to become standard procedure: Speak out of turn, even in your private life, in a way that offends the LGBT community, and you lose your job.
“It’s a chilling effect, said John Whitehead, president and founder of the Rutherford Institute, a legal defense and civil liberties organization. “Free speech in America, in my opinion, is basically dying. It’s being filtered by the national media and being scooped up and evaluated by the government.”
Cochran got caught in the filter, fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed because he wrote a book for Christian men that presented the case for traditional morals. Just one page in the book discussed homosexuality, describing it as one of many sexual sins. That was enough to get him fired, despite his many accolades both locally and nationally as a distinguished fire chief.
Atlanta Mayor Muhammad Kasim Reed
Travis Weber, director of the center for religious liberty at the Family Research Council, says Cochran has become the new face of Christian persecution in America. But the backlash against the mayor has been larger than he perhaps expected.
More than 12,000 people rallied on Cochran’s behalf at the state Capitol Monday in Atlanta.
“It’s funny you can see the mayor shifting in his statements,” Weber said. “First he said the firing was not about anything the chief wrote or said, it was about his judgment because he failed to conform with ethics requirements while publishing a book, but then later he said the chief violated the need to create a welcoming environment for everybody. So which is it?”
Reed showed his hand on Nov. 24, prior to the firing, when he suspended the chief and issued the following statement:
“I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”
But the mayor never made specific allegations of discriminatory acts on the part of Cochran. He simply didn’t like the book that his fire chief authored.
Cochran, a decorated 34-year veteran firefighter and a Baptist deacon, obtained permission to write the book, per city policy. But Reed says he got permission from the wrong person, a reason Weber sees as disingenuous.
Weber said Reed almost certainly fired Cochran to appease activists within Atlanta’s politically powerful LGBT community. He believes all other explanations amount to whitewash.
“The mayor wants to have his cake and eat it too, and he should have to be pinned down and forced to explain his actions,” Weber said. “I have a problem believing if this book was about organic gardening that we’d be seeing much media attention on this because he wouldn’t have been fired.”
Written by LEO HOHMANN
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