Fire Chief Fired for expressing his faith on his own time

While many people are gearing up for Supreme Court arguments over the rights of a religious baker, a case involving the rights of a religious fire chief also remains up in the air.

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran says he was fired for his Christian faith and beliefs. The case began in 2014 after Cochran self-published a men’s devotional book he had written on his personal time. While the book does mention biblical sexual morality, attorney Kevin Theriot of Alliance Defending Freedom says it was only a brief mention in the 162-page book.

“We had a hearing on whether or not the court would go ahead and decide the case without a trial or that the case would proceed to trial – it’s called a summary judgment,” says Theriot about the November 17 hearing before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

 

“[At that] hearing both sides presented arguments as to why they think that they should succeed – and what we argued, on behalf of Chief Cochran, is that the city has conceded that they considered the content of the speech and his book about his religious beliefs when they suspended him without pay and when they fired him; and because of that, that violated his constitutional rights.”


Atlanta argues that it is an inclusive city and an inclusive employer. But according to Theriot, Atlanta’s definition of inclusiveness means excluding those that disagree with the city.

“Not only did the mayor say but several of his staff [also] said Look, these were offensive to us and therefore we got rid of him,” he explains. “That clearly violates the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

A decision by the judge in Cochran v. City of Atlanta is expected in December or early next year.

( Read more here. )

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