Three years ago the mayor of Atlanta fired the city’s black fire chief for reportedly criticizing homosexuality in a Christian book he had published two years earlier.
According to the station WXIA, the dispute between former fire chief Kelvin Cochran and then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed began in November of 2014, when city officials learned of Cochran’s book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” and suspended him for violating “unspecified city policies.”
The book, which Reed had published privately in 2013, reportedly characterized homosexuality as “unclean,” “a sexual perversion,” “vulgar” and “inappropriate.”
“It was NOT a ‘gay bashing homophobic’ book at all, as has been reported in the media…,” wrote one reader who reviewed the book on Amazon. “I think he mentions homosexuality twice, briefly, and in passing. The book is about Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the garden of Eden, hence the title, and how we as Christians can draw closer to God by putting the Lord first in all things and not succumbing to the temptations of the world.”
Incredibly, when Cochran returned to work two months later in January of 2015, city officials then reportedly terminated him. The following month he filed a discrimination suit against the city of Atlanta, alleging that his termination had been based on his religious beliefs, not his on-the-job performance.
Now fast forward to December of 2017, when U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May ruled “that the city’s restrictions on non-work speech, which were used to terminate Cochran, ‘do not set out objective standards for the supervisor to employ’ and do not ‘pass constitutional muster,'” as reported by Christianity Today.
This ruling reportedly concerned a city policy that requires city employees obtain permission from officials before publishing a book.
“This policy would prevent an employee from writing and selling a book on golf or badminton on his own time and, without prior approval, would subject him to firing,” May wrote, according to the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper.
However, May also ruled against Cochran’s claim that the city of Atlanta had violated his First Amendment rights. The Blade noted that May specifically took issue with Cochran having apparently shared his book with his co-workers.
“(T)he book was disseminated by a supervisor at the workplace — as opposed to completely off campus — and was even distributed unsolicited to at least three individuals,” the judge reportedly wrote.
“At least one such employee felt the subject matter of the book was sufficiently concerning such that he gave the book to the union president, and the union president then disseminated it more broadly to city officials.”
May further ruled that given Cochran’s characterization of homosexuality, his decision to share his book with his co-workers “exposed the City to hostile work environment liability.”
Did it really, though?
Listen to Cochran’s side of the story in the video below:
This whole case raises numerous questions regarding religious freedom in America. Clearly, city workers should reserve the right to publish whatever they want on their own free time.
However, the judge in the Cochran case seems to be supporting the city’s right to discipline employees based on sharing those beliefs.
There’s no way around the fact that Cochran’s belief system in this case is conservative Christian, a philosophy and theology that isn’t generally popular in cities as big as Atlanta, and isn’t popular at all with the contemporary Democrat Party. And the Democrat Party runs things in Atlanta today, as it has since Reconstruction.
“Given my history and work, I was shocked that writing a book encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers that God has called us to be would jeopardize my job,” Cochran said on the video.
“It is still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements, and drove me to treat all people with love and equity, is what the government ultimately used to bring my childhood dream come true to an end.”
It’s unthinkable to a lot of Americans, but that’s the country eight years of an Obama administration bequeathed us.
Hopefully, the Donald Trump administration will go a long way toward turning that around.
Until then, the former black fire chief of Atlanta is still out of his job, the victim of what libs call “social justice,” just for writing a Bible study.
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