City Pays Damages to Fire Chief Dismissed for His Faith

The Atlanta city council this week acquiesced to a federal court victory in December for former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, whose employment was terminated because of his Christian beliefs. The city agreed to pay the decorated civil servant $1.2 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.

On November 24, 2014, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran for 30 days and announced that he would have to complete “sensitivity training” after complaints were received about a men’s devotional book Cochran had written on his personal time. Biblical sexual morality is mentioned only briefly in the 162-page book, and an investigation that included interviews with employees found Cochran did not discriminate against anyone. Regardless, the mayor fired him, citing as his basis the need to tolerate diverse views.

Cochran’s defense was taken up by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Welcoming Atlanta’s decision this week, ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said, “We are very pleased that the city is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants.”

Following last year’s federal district court ruling in favor of the chief, NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson said, “Kelvin is a hero among heroes. Not only is he a highly decorated firefighter, but he is a proven man of faith in our Lord who has stood bravely and winsomely in the face of intolerance and injustice.”

Johnson also declared “such discrimination is reprehensible and unconstitutional.”

NRB presented its prestigious Faith & Freedom Award to Chief Cochran in 2016. In accepting the award, Cochran said he was “honored and humbled beyond words,” and also noted that his story “is but one of a growing list of many where a government entity and special interest groups have imposed adverse consequences on an American for publicly proclaiming a position based upon biblical truth that is not consistent with popular culture or the shifting pluralisms of political correctness.”

Find out more about Chief Cochran’s case from ADF here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: October 19, 2018

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