Beliefs Culture Politics

Ousted Atlanta fire chief files religious discrimination complaint

Kelvin Cochran, former Atlanta fire chief, speaks at the podium after being sworn in at the annual convention of International Fire Chiefs in Dallas, Tex., on August 27, 2009.

ATLANTA (Reuters) – In a case that has rallied proponents of religious freedom, Atlanta’s ousted fire chief has filed a federal discrimination complaint against the city, arguing that his firing over a book critical of homosexuality was an attack on his faith.

Kelvin Cochran speaks at the podium after being sworn in at the annual convention of International Fire Chiefs in Dallas, Tex., on August 27, 2009.

Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Kelvin Cochran speaks at the podium after being sworn in at the annual convention of International Fire Chiefs in Dallas, Tex., on August 27, 2009.

Kelvin Cochran wrote a 2013 book titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” in which he called homosexuality “vulgar” and “the opposite of purity.” He was fired from his post earlier this month by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

“The book expresses my deeply held religious briefs on many subjects,” Cochran wrote in the complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed on Wednesday.

“I believe I have been discriminated against because of my religion.”

Cochran did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on the EEOC complaint.

“We intend to defend the mayor’s decision vigorously whether, through the EEOC administrative process or in any other appropriate forum,” Reed’s spokeswoman Anne Torres said on Thursday.

Reed said earlier this month Cochran was not fired due to his religious beliefs, but rather because of questions that arose about his “judgment and ability to manage the department” in connection with the book.

Reed said the city has a clear policy that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation and that Cochran’s published views could be a legal liability.

Cochran consulted the city’s ethics officer but not the mayor before he published the book, Reed said.

Cochran, 54, was named Atlanta fire chief in 2008. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009 to serve as U.S. Fire Administrator, a post he served in for 10 months before returning to Atlanta as the city’s fire chief.

He gained the support of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group, after he was fired.

“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are continuing to evaluate all available legal options to vindicate Chief Cochran after his unjust termination,” it said.

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David Beasley

16 Comments

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  • I started writing about Cochran in November ( http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/search/label/Kelvin%20Cochran ). The ever-grandstanding ADF is simply using Cochran for their own purposes. They haven’t a chance of prevailing. However, there is a certain irony about the process.

    I have terminated more than my fair share of managers over the years. It’s never their fault that their employment came to an end. It’s the basic fabric of American culture not to accept responsibility for one’s misadventures in the workplace.

    My prediction is that Cochran will end up working for Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition.

  • Funny, isn’t it, that people who claim the protections of the Bill of Rights don’t really know them or understand them. The “dumbing-down” of American society is coming home to roost, with dire consequences.

  • When the ADF is defending someone, it is a sure sign the lawsuit is frivolous self-important Christian fundamentalist nonsense.

  • The article fails to mention that he *actively pushed his views on employees*.

    That’s not just a “privately held religious view”, which of course he has a right to. As usual, a Christian is acting like he has a right to use his position of power to force his Christianity onto others.

  • God speed Kelvin!

    Wake up Christians this is only the beginning! Speak boldly and unapologetically and stand up for your freedom to do so.

  • I support LGBT rights, but I do support rights of people like Kelvin not to like homosexuality and to have their free speech on the issue.

  • I support both, but Kelvin made it an issue when he distributed the book among his co-workers and subordinates. When he intimated its importance to a man’s promotion interview. Free speech does not entitle one to speak without criticism or consequences. By making his private religious views public, he embarrassed his position and turned himself into a liability.

    As a political appointee, his job is purely at the mercy of where the political winds take him.

  • Re: “The article fails to mention that he *actively pushed his views on employees*. That’s not just a ‘privately held religious view’, which of course he has a right to.”

    You’re forgetting the militant Christianist view of all this. Cochran’s “privately held religious view” is that “everyone else on the planet is obliged to believe what he believes and do what he wants them to do.” Ergo, in Christianists’ minds, there is no difference between one’s “private” worship and one’s “public” actions. For anyone to tell them there is a difference, would deny them their right to worship as they wish (and which, in turn, they demand everyone else on the planet worship).

    At least, that’s how they see it. Cochran and the ADF won’t settle for any less.

  • I agree, Fran, this is only the beginning. It will get much much worse. I read today that in France, two people who voiced their negative opinions of homosexuality on Twitter, were found guilty by the French Court. I’m not sure what the sentence will be, but it could be up to a year in prison. As for the USA, I foresee the day when our First Amendment rights are stripped away, and the same thing will commence here.

  • Their sentences were 300-500 euro fines for calling for the execution of gay people by being burned alive.

    THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DEFENDING, BUDDY.

    But then, given your other marks about gay people, this is not overly surprising, is it? all that nicey-nice stuff about gay people, but occasionally, you let your real self out. I’m sure your jesus would be oh-so proud of of you.

    YOU’LL KNOW WE’RE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE. Tra-la-la-la-la.

    Just so you understand something. In our country, freedom of speech is practically unfettered. That’s why you can call for the deaths of gay people by horrendous fire, and the worst you get for it is a tongue lashing. In Europe, they have hate speech laws, becuase they have seen the consequences of unfettered hate speech.

  • “Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts.” Obviously. But wasn’t he pushing his book on his employees? That’s where it crosses the line.

  • Hoemsexulaists and homosexualism is imposed on every person in America. A behavior, where nature itself can testify that it is inappropriate. This is just another example of the homosexualist (liberal, progressive, humanist et al) and the atheist find yet another tool to rid their world of Christians.

    Like the Sodomites said to Lot when they were denied the rights to homosexualize Lot’s visitors: “. . . we will treat you worse then them.”

  • Oh no Ken! The temptation will be too great for you!!! With all the “normalization of homosexuality” you will not be able to control yourself. Or worse, soon all of your Christian friends will abandon you and engage in gay relations!

    There is only so much self-important idiocy one can read before the sarcasm has to come out. 🙂

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