Impossible. That is what some would say of the notion that an American could lose his or her job for writing a book to encourage men to be better husbands and fathers, on personal time, that had the briefest biblical mentions that leftists disagreed with.
But that is exactly what happened to now-former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. In his self-published book 2013 book titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, Cochran referenced biblical verses regarding sexual purity and marriage.
The criticism of sodomy in the bible was included, as was the biblical reference to marriage being between one man and one woman. Those were at least part of what inflamed the left under the claim of that Cochran was anti-gay.
As a result, Cochran, whose successful career included a stint as chief of the U.S. Fire Administration appointed by former President Barack Obama, was ultimately fired from his Atlanta job in January 2015.
Kelvin Cochran was fired from his job as fire chief of Atlanta for expressing his faith. @DailySignal shared his story last year—and today he received justice (thanks to @AllianceDefends) but we still have a long fight ahead to protect #religiousliberty https://t.co/aefJxAGux2
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) October 16, 2018
The Alliance for Defending Freedom, an organization dedicated to fighting for religious liberty, took on Cochran’s legal case when he sued the city over his termination. Now, after a three-year battle, some measure of justice has been served.
According to The Daily Wire, in December 2017 it was determined that it was in fact Cochran who had been discriminated against. And the news gets better for Cochran.
In a news release Tuesday, the ADF announced the city had agreed to pay a $1.2 million settlement.
— FRC (@FRCdc) October 16, 2018
In a subsequent blog post, the ADF noted that the ruling in Cochran’s favor was due to the fact “that the City of Atlanta’s actions were unconstitutional. The court struck down Atlanta’s policy that requires government employees to receive permission before engaging in free speech outside of their jobs – which is the policy the city used to justify firing Chief Cochran.”
Prior to Cochran’s termination, then-Mayor Kassim Reed posted a statement to Facebook about the situation. He wrote, in part that, “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.”
Among the steps taken by the mayor at the time, he gave Cochran a suspension without pay and ordered him into sensitivity training.
What is particularly striking about Cochran’s case, aside from appearing to be a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, is the claim that he was somehow discriminatory toward any group of people.
In telling his own story, Cochran shared that as one of the first black firefighters in Atlanta, he faced discrimination, himself, as a black man.
He spoke of how because he was black, he was given a special bed, and designated dishes for eating, so no white firefighters would eat off the same dishes. He determined then and there that if he ever got into a position of authority, he would work to ensure no discrimination against any group, for any reason.
His telling of his story is captured on video. It may be viewed below:
In a time when many feel that their freedom of speech and religion are under increased attack from the left, cases such as Cochran’s give hope.
For many conservatives, President Donald Trump’s filling so many judicial seats may also help swing things back to rule of law and the upholding of the Constitution in federal courts, rather than the blatant leftist activism so often seen practiced from the bench.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.