Terminated Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran spoke at a rally today in the Georgia State Capitol. It was really well done, and I encourage you to listen to all of it (it begins at 1:20:57 above). But I would draw your attention now to his conclusion below. In his own words:
It has been said by Council Member Alex Wan that my termination has made a great statement. I could not agree with him more. It has made the statement that though there is no evidence that my religious beliefs have created a hostile work environment (as alleged) and no discrimination against any LGBT members of our community, there are grave consequences for publicly expressing our faith and having the audacity to believe that sex was created for procreation and should be in the bonds of holy matrimony between a man and a woman.
My termination has indeed made a great statement to all of the remaining city employees. If you seek to live out the true meaning of our nation’s pledge and constitution and have a faith—a living faith that does justice—and believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony, we have made a great statement that you better keep your mouth shut or you will be fired. These statements are an indictment against our American values and do not embrace the diversity of which we are so proudly boasting of here in our wonderful city of Atlanta.
Indeed a strong statement has been made. All people groups are welcome and embraced in the city of Atlanta except the groups that believe the Scripture regarding God’s purpose for sex.
This experience has taught me that there are worldly consequences for publicly standing for righteousness. But I stand before you to say that the kingdom consequences are far greater and more glorious than the worldly consequences.
To that end, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ, let me emphasize that this event is not just about Kelvin J. Cochran. This event is to raise attention and awareness to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under attack. As Christians we have to fight the good fight of faith to preserve these cherished protections. We cannot allow our divisions by denomination, race, political party, or geography to continue to weaken the collective voice of the body of Christ. The power that works within us can and will make a difference.
I covet your continued prayers and support, not just for me and my family, but also for my beloved little brother in Christ Mayor Kasim Reed. And I covet your prayers for the city of Atlanta and all the wonderful citizens, that we may experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in its full measure. And pray that God pours out His grace on the United States of America.
I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
it was reported that Mayor Reed publicly stated this in his announcement about the termination:
” . . . His actions around the book and his statements during this investigation have eroded my confidence in his ability to convey that message. ”
my question is this:
does anyone know specifically what those ‘statements’ are that allegedly were made? My own assumption is that the investigation was a private matter, but I don’t know that for certain.
This sad matter keeps a lot of people wondering what exactly happened there, and how did it go so far without some positive intervention before it was too late to prevent a termination of this man’s livelihood.
There were also some great statements from others who spoke, one who pointed out that the requirement for political correctness has turned lethal in France. I thought that was an interesting point.
I did watch the mayor’s comments when he announced the termination and his words did seem to in some ways contradict what he first wrote when he suspended the Fire Chief. He seems to be most offended that he didn’t go to him personally and not just the ethics board. At the same time he seemed like a man shaken, having been (along with his wife and family) subjected to a barrage of decidedly unChristian responses from the public over the holidays. Reminds me of the importance of being wise as serpents but harmless as doves. So I appreciated the speakers’ comments to and about the mayor today. They demonstrated affection and respect for him personally, as well as for his office and his dignity, while not backing down and unequivocating in their belief that he just flat out blew this one.
” Cochran was not fired because the city objects to his identity as a Christian. Indeed, Mayor Reed is also a Christian. Rather, Cochran was fired because of concerns that his now very public anti-gay views would create a work environment that was not welcoming to his gay subordinates. Mayor Reed also claims that Cochran published his anti-gay book without following protocols for seeking approval from city officials.
To be sure, Cochran’s actions were undoubtedly motivated by his religious views, but his motivation has no constitutional relevance. As Justice Antonin Scalia explained in his majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, “the right of free exercise [of religion] does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).” Thus, so long as Atlanta’s anti-discrimination policies apply equally to discrimination that is motivated by faith and discrimination that is motivated by some other reason, Cochran’s free exercise rights are not implicated here.”
As I said earlier had he not identified himself as the fire chief of Atlanta he might have a chance. This is born out of at least one other case.
Denny’s previous post addresses that claim. The mayor’s statements were quite different in November. The Fire Chief did get permission from the director of the ethics board, which apparently is the protocol in place. His views are also in line with orthodox, historical biblical Christianity, and at no time has he denigrated the inherent worth of anyone. All have sinned, we are all born in all kinds of sin. The Scripture makes that clear, and defines it. That is why we need a Savior, and Fod in His great love for those whom He created in His image (mankind) sent His only begotten Son so that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. We turn from our sin and in faith to the Righteous One who shed His blood as an atonement to free us from our sin and cleanse us to bring us to God, not to affirm us in it. His book is about that need for a Savior, and about God’s gracious provision of one. It spurred from a Sunday School lesson. Plain and simple.
And today, because of that and the reaction by the mayor, for a solid hour that same Gospel and the Glory of Christ and the surpassing value of the glory of God and His Kingdom was proclaimed by black and white, Jew and Gentile, male and female alike and broadcast to the world. Not from a church, but from a government building. The state Capitol building. And there was nothing politically correct about it. 🙂
“And though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
Perhaps, since he was a superior officer in the fire department, he should not have involved subordinates without their request . . . it does rather make a difference when you think your employment might be at stake . . .
I can understand how someone who did not want this kind of attention from a superior officer might be made uncomfortable and be worried about possible outcomes . . .
I still think there might have been a way to intervene positively before he lost his job . . . but I wonder if he realizes that some among his subordinates might feel that they were being intimidated . . . even though he did not have that intention ????
This is difficult to sort out, and maybe we will never know precisely who turned him in for his actions and why . . . and also what was said by Chief Cochran that alarmed the mayor so much that he saw no other alternative but to do what he did ???
Is it right for a superior to hand out religious materials to their subordinates within a work environment? Not according to Sandra’s comment where she referenced Justice Scalia;
but is it also right for a man to lose his livelihood without some recourse to being allowed to correct what offended the higher ups? At best this was an all-around misunderstanding that got out of hand . . . and at worse . . . without knowing more, I don’t think it’s right to imagine the worst . . . very sad case, yes.
Kasim Reed is a Democrat who surely wishes to become Governor, Senator, Attorney General, and perhaps President. Were he to let Chief Cochran’s views go unpunished it would limit his fundraising abilities in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Hollywood. The NYT, NBC, CBS, NPR, Washington Post, ABC, CNN, etc would regard letting Cochran go unpunished as silent support – and thus severely limit Mayor Reed’s ability to rise above the mayor’s office. This is the Democrat party at work.
Chief Cochran was not fired because he quoted scripture to argue for racial justice, social justice, environmental justice, immigration amnesty, or a higher minimum wage; he was not fired because he used scripture to argue against waterboarding, the death penalty, or gun ownership. Had he done so he would be applauded as “speaking truth to power”, or having a “prophetic voice,”. He would be an example of how Democrats can be comfortable with scripture without falling into the Christian Right’s sexual obsessions. Just like Obama!
No, he was fired because he invoked scripture to argue against Democratic Liberalism’s One True Law:
The fulfillment of all sexual desires between two or more consenting adults must not be criticized, denigrated, opposed, proscribed, or debated, but instead must be praised, encouraged, exalted, preferred, and even subsidized.
The trend towards hedonism and veneration of sin is more or less blind to party affiliation. Kasim Reed has virtually no shot at advancing beyond Mayor in his state given political realities there. I’d say he fired Cochran because he thought it was the right thing to do.
I’m thinking the GA legislature may be passing new laws shortly or that the courts may have the final say in the matter.
Thank you Andrew.
I really don’t know what the chief did that was so wrong, but I am sure he’ll be filing a suit against the city for this.