Religious liberty advocates are making plans to take the City of Atlanta to court over the recent dismissal of the city's fire chief. Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom are evaluating litigation choices to defend the
constitutional rights of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran
, who was fired because he is a Bible-believing Christian.
"Chief Cochran served the city of Atlanta with distinction," says ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. "The city fired him for nothing other than his faith, and that's not constitutional. We are currently assessing the legal options available to vindicate his rights to free speech and freedom of religion."
Chief Cochran was suspended, and then discharged from his post as Atlanta Fire Chief by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed following a campaign of vilification by homosexual rights activists. Cochran came under fire for authoring a book on Christian discipleship designed for men's Bible study groups.
In that book, the Fire Chief urged men to be committed husbands and fathers, and to be devoted to a lifestyle of sexual integrity. Cochran counseled men to refrain from sexual conduct which would "dishonor God," including sex outside marriage, sex with multiple partners, and sex with individuals of the same gender. The reference to homosexuality appears on one page of the 160-page book.
Mayor Reed castigated Cochran's book, claiming that it was "inflammatory," and an article of discrimination against the so-called "LGBT community." Despite claiming to be a Christian, Reed then canned Cochran for no other reason than that he quoted from passages from the Bible that true Christians believe.
Theriot sharply condemned the hollow hypocrisy and blatant bigotry of Mayor Reed
's brutal behavior. "Tolerance is a two-way street. That's what a federal appeals court said not long ago about public officials who claim to love diversity while only tolerating views they themselves favor."
Cochran has served as a firefighter since 1981. He was named Atlanta's Fire Chief in 2008. He was appointed by President Obama as the nation's Fire Administrator in 2009, and returned to his job as Atlanta Fire Chief the following year.
Mayor Reed's ruthless treatment of a kindly Christian man with a decorated career in the fire service has provoked sustained outrage across the country,
particularly in the African-American community. Hundreds gathered in the Georgia State Capitol Building last week for a rally in support of Cochran, demanding that he be reinstated to his job.
"Chief Cochran has spent a lifetime, ready at a moment's notice, to fight the fires that threaten life and property," said Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, at the rally. "Today, he stands ready to fight the fire and flame of intolerance that threatens the freedom of every American."
"The naked truth is that the actions against the Chief are designed to send a message that will silence Christians and force them to check their faith at the door of public service," Perkins added. "We must not let that happen in the United States of America."
Addressing the crowd gathered to support him at the Georgia Capitol, Chief Cochran says the nature of his dismissal sends a message of intimidation to Christians in the workplace. "If you seek to live out the true meaning of our nation's pledge and Constitution through a living faith--if you believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony--we have now made a statement that you better keep your mouth shut or you will be fired."