Atlanta Fire Chief dismissed over Christian beliefs expressed outside of his job!
With every news story like this hitting media outlets, people of faith need to sound the alarm on yet another disingenuous act of political correctness that has overstepped its bounds and seeks to punish matters of conscience and religious liberty. If we fail to express our opposition and do not intervene with strong conviction—pushing back these ongoing attempts at censorship through intimidation, threats of job loss and public reprimand—we may eventually lose the window of opportunity for our voices to be heard.
Kelvin Cochran, the Chief who was released, was a decorated firefighter and served in the department with distinction for seven years. Cochran had recently authored a book for his church’s Bible study group on questions of morality and included a short comment (less than half a page) on what Scripture has to say about sexual purity. Atlanta Mayor, Kasim Reed, indicated that he did not make his decision based on Cochran’s religious beliefs and that he was, “disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community.”
Here’s the problem with this kind of egregious thinking—the Bible, which happens to be a book of religious beliefs and values, has some definitive things to say about contemporary cultural issues that often hold center stage in the national conversation. This includes topics such as the definition of marriage, fornication, adultery, abortion, the sanctity of life and same sex attraction or behavior. In fact the world’s three major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all take similar positions regarding the subject of homosexuality.
So when a citizen like Cochran—completely and legally within the practice of his faith tradition—simply says that his spiritual value system describes certain standards of morality, how is this not about religious beliefs and guaranteed First Amendment rights? It should be noted that there has never been a claim of discrimination against Cochran toward the LGBT community in his role as the Fire Chief.
An editorial by the New York Times attempted to falsely argue that because Cochran worked within the public arena, the Mayor’s action was justified. This story is not about the separation of church and state, but about state censorship and a power grab over religious beliefs and practice. Listen to the words of our first President, George Washington, in writing to his troops at Valley Forge in 1778, “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to laud the more distinguished character of Christian.”
Since Washington read and observed the same Bible that Cochran was referencing in his paperback, perhaps the New York Times would call for Washington’s impeachment at such public commentary, or Mayor Reed would fire him as Supreme Commander of the Continental Army should he have the authority to do so. Mayor Reed and the editors at the Times need look no further than the mirror to see the real bullies here and even though they proclaim to care about discrimination and intolerance, yet are the ones who model it in their actions.
The questions we should all be concerned about are: Where does this kind of censorship end? When will it touch an area of my life that matters personally? When is this going to happen in my own city or town? At what point will I feel compelled to stand up? Speak up? Take action?
Kudos to folks like Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary, who are supporting Cochran. These kinds of concerns (see also religious schools having to fight the federal government and the Houston Mayor’s ongoing harassment of local pastors) are the very issues we are fighting for on your behalf here at the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation.
Freedom came with our Founding Fathers, but it came with a price. Men and women willingly laid down their fortunes and even their lives to boldly stand up and be counted faithful to their core values and principles. Today in America, too many have succumbed to pressure tactics by anti-faith entities and are afraid to challenge the rolling tide of postmodern rhetoric.
The first three words to the United States Constitution are, “We the people,” not “We the newspaper editors” or “We the Atlanta Mayor’s administration.” This country was founded by godly men and on Judeo-Christian principles. It’s time to reclaim our heritage and fight back. Won’t you join us? Please pray for discernment, wisdom, boldness and the necessary resources to make a difference.