Atlanta's fired fire chief is taking a stand against his termination. He said yesterday he believes the action is designed to silence city workers.
In late 2013, Chief Kelvin Cochran wrote and published a book for his men's Bible study group, a small portion of which reiterated the Bible's statement that homosexuality – along with many other sins – is sinful. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed subsequently fired him, saying "his actions and decision-making undermine his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse work force."
On Tuesday, Christian leaders from throughout the country converged on Atlanta in a show of support for Cochran. Thirteen speakers took to the podium during the "Stand for Religious Freedom Rally." That rally was broadcast by New Life FM, a Christian radio station based in nearby Griffin, Georgia.
Cochran, a committed Christian, said the support for him and his family has strengthened him during the ordeal. "1 Peter 4:12 and 13 says: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you, but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's suffering that when His glory shall be revealed you may be glad with exceeding joy."
Cochran went on to say that his termination sends a loud message to others who work at the pleasure of Mayor Reed.
"If you seek to live out the true meaning of our nation's pledge and Constitution and have a living faith that does justice, and [if you] believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony, we have made a great statement that you better keep your mouth shut or you will be fired," he stated.
Dr. Alveda King was one of the speakers who rallied attendees to support Chief Cochran, who then marched to city hall to deliver over 35,000 petition signatures asking the city to reinstate Cochran. She said there is a "seemingly never-ending debate" over sexuality.
"However, 1 Corinthians 16:13 and 14, [says] Be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong and do everything in love," said King, who continued: "We are one blood, one human race. From one blood God created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall and He determines our boundaries. He has brought us here today."
Family Research Council's Tony Perkins pointed to the fact that Chief Cochran has been on the front line defending property of others from fire. "Today he stands ready to fight the fire and the flame of intolerance that threatens the freedom of every American," the FRC president said from the podium: "And I will tell you this: I am here to stand by his side."
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Cochran, although no plans for a lawsuit have been announced.