Kelvin Cochran was once “Fire Chief of the Year” in Atlanta, Georgia, but the City looked on him very differently after he published a book supporting the Biblical view of marriage.
Let that sink in.
Despite his selfless service to the safety of the city of Atlanta, and his skilled leadership as fire chief, the personal views he held as a Christian got him fired from a job he was otherwise clearly well-qualified for and excelled at.
This is a textbook case of a violation of the First Amendment.
Fortunately, he has won his legal battle with his former employer. Unfortunately, it was based more on the fact that it was more trouble than it was worth for the city, rather than their clear recognition that they’d violated his constitutional rights.
Great day for the Chief. 1.2 mill settlement after yrs of unnecessary legal battle for his right to live out faith and #speech in city of Atlanta
@AllianceDefends https://t.co/RQoUGZhcPf pic.twitter.com/WuiM0XLVDH
— Rebecca Sears (@SearsBecca) October 16, 2018
While this is a welcome win for Kelvin Cochran and the cause of religious liberty, it is not a decisive vindication.
The city attorney conducted an extensive review of the case “and concluded that the cost of continuing to defend against the lawsuit would far exceed the cost to settle,” according to a Daily Journal report. And while Atlanta’s city council voted 11-3 in favor of the settlement, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has yet to sign off on the settlement.
“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods,” said Kevin Theriot, the ADF attorney who represented Cochran.
“We are very pleased that the city is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants,” added Theriot.
Cochran was fired after he self-published a Christian Bible study book for men which briefly outlined the biblical view for marriage and perspective on homosexuality.
“It’s ironic that the city points to tolerance and inclusion as part of its reasoning,” he said at the time. “What could be more intolerant and exclusionary than ending a public servant’s 30 years of distinguished service for his religious beliefs?”
“I was really surprised that writing a book — a Christian men’s bible study — 162 pages encouraging men to be the husbands and fathers and leaders that God has called us to be would put me in an adverse position against the city of Atlanta because of a few pages I wrote explaining biblical marriage and biblical sexuality,” he added.
We’re glad to see he’s been vindicated and for the amazing council the Alliance Defending Freedom is able to provide for men of Christ like Cochran.
But the fact that the City of Atlanta thought it was appropriate at all in our Constitutional Republic to fire him based on his faith is absolutely outrageous. This is the climate we’re fighting against every single day, and we need to continue to fight back until our culture once again has a regard for not only the Constitutional values, but the biblical values, our nation was founded on.