No doubt by now you have read about the Fire Chief in Atlanta who was fired for his views on homosexuality. The New York Times
Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that he had fired the chief of the city’s Fire Rescue Department, Kelvin Cochran, after Mr. Cochran gave workers a religious book he wrote containing passages that condemn homosexuality…
Mr. Cochran, a firefighter for more than three decades, was chosen to lead the city’s department by Mr. Reed’s predecessor, Shirley Franklin, in 2008. He returned to the position in May 2010 after having served 10 months as fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration.
He is also a member of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which holds homosexuality to be sinful. Mr. Cochran’s book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” counts homosexual acts among a number of “vile, vulgar and inappropriate” activities that serve to “dishonor God,” according to excerpts obtained by the local gay news media and activists.
Mr. Cochran held his own news conference Tuesday. He said that the city’s investigation found that he had not acted in a discriminatory way toward gay people, and said that he had asked for, and received, permission from the proper bureaucratic channels to write the book — an assertion Mr. Reed’s office disputes.
Nevertheless, Mayor Reed seems to view the mere expression of these views as discriminatory. He writes:
I was surprised and disappointed to learn of this book on Friday. 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.
Yet the Mayor offers no evidence of discrimination on Chief Cochran’s part—only that the chief holds these views and put them in a book. The book is not about homosexuality, but there is a single page that refers to homosexuality as one of many sexual behaviors that Christians view as sin. The Chief says that the only people he shared copies with were those who had already identified themselves as fellow Christians.
In his daily podcast, Albert Mohler gets to the heart of what is at stake in this case. The fire chief lost his job not because he discriminated against gay people, but because he believes that homosexuality is a sin. The fire chief is a Christian, and he believes what Christians have always believed about these things. Nevertheless, the Atlanta mayor now says expressing such a belief is incompatible with working for the City of Atlanta.
This raises the obvious question: Does this mean that Christians are no longer allowed to work for the city? Or perhaps that they are not allowed managerial positions if they hold to their church’s teaching on sexuality? You can listen to the rest of Mohler’s comments below or download here [commentary begins at 11:07].
In some ways, this case parallels that of Brendon Eich, former CEO of Mozilla who was forced out for his Christian views on marriage. But this case is worse. Mozilla is a private-sector company. The mayor of Atlanta is a government employer. That means that a city government is now complicit in suppressing freedom of religion and freedom of speech—rights that are established in the first article of the Bill of Rights. Will this precedent stand? That is the big question. If City Governments can now discriminate against Christians for their religious views, that will only be the beginning. This truly is an intolerable precedent, and I hope it doesn’t stand.