Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran claims he was fired because of his faith.
According to Fox News, Cochran had wanted to be a firefighter since he was five years old, eventually becoming fire chief in 2008 and a fire administrator to the Obama Administration in 2009.
Cochran returned to his position as chief in 2010, but now his long career is coming to a sudden stop because of a book he wrote for his Baptist Bible study class called Who Told You That You Were Naked? The book covers biblical morality and contained passages condemning homosexuality. It also earned Cochran a 30-day suspension from the department in November.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced on Tuesday that Cochran was fired — the same day he would have returned from the suspension.
“The LGBT members of our community have a right to be able to express their views and convictions about sexuality and deserve to be respected for their position without hate or discrimination,” Cochran said in an interview. “But Christians also have a right to express our belief regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and without discrimination. In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.”
Cochran pointed out that the passages condemning homosexuality only covered about half a page in the entire book. “I did not single out homosexuality,” he said. “I simply spoke to sex being created by God for pro-creation and He intended it to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony – and that any other sex outside of that is sin.”
The passages from the book that caused all this controversy were as follows:
Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.
Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body – temple and dishonor God.
Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham says Cochran’s dismissal is not about faith but about leadership. “This is not about his religious views but his about his ability to lead a diverse work force,” he explained.
But Robert White, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, believes that the firing is not about whether Cochran can lead a diverse force but is indeed about his Christianity. “It’s a frightening day in the United States when a person cannot express their faith without fears of persecution following,” he said. “It’s persecution when a godly fire chief loses his job over expressing his Christian faith.”