Are Christians only accepted in the workplace if they stay silent about their faith?
Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has dedicated most of his adult life to preserving the safety of his community—his entire community.
He got his start fighting fires in Shreveport, Louisiana, and worked his way up the ranks, being appointed Fire Chief for the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department in 2008. His professional career has been stellar. In fact, in 2009, President Obama appointed him as the U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration, where he was "responsible for overseeing, coordinating, and directing national efforts to prevent fires and improve fire response."
But last year Chief Cochran rocked the boat.
He wrote and self-published a book addressing what the Bible says about sexuality, titled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" which is available online through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The book was developed as a resource for his men's Bible study, which encourages men to be responsible, honorable, and Godly in every aspect of their lives.
When word got out about the book and that Chief Cochran had shared it with members of his department, things changed overnight. He went from being a respected member of the community, to many members of the community rejecting him and calling him a bigot, hateful, and “anti-gay.” The homosexual advocacy group Georgia Equality called for his termination.
The City of Atlanta responded by suspending him for a month without pay. It also banned him from distributing the book on city property, and ordered that he undergo sensitivity training.
But the investigation into Chief Cochran continued. Just one day after returning to his job following his suspension, he was fired, in part because the City officials wanted “to make Atlanta a more welcoming city.”
Quick question… how is firing a man who serves his community on a daily basis for his religious beliefs creating a more welcoming city?
Faith is not reserved for pastors and chaplains. Your local librarian, police officers, and firemen and women live their lives according to a set of beliefs. So does your doctor, your lawyer, and your banker. We are more than just our job titles, we are people first—people with values and beliefs that make us who we are, and we have the right to live our lives and share our beliefs accordingly without government intrusion.
Too often, however, the government promotes political correctness over personal freedom.
Though the city granted Chief Cochran permission to publish a Christian book, it now claims that he did not have permission. In public statements, city representatives have said that “His religious beliefs are not the basis of the problem.”
But the city’s actions say otherwise.
“The city nonetheless fired him for nothing other than his Christian faith,” explained Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who represents Chief Cochran. “We are currently assessing the legal options available to vindicate Chief Cochran’s right to free speech.”
Chief Cochran could have stayed silent. He could have lived out his career without the slightest blemish. Instead, he took a stand for his faith. Instead of pleasing people, he chose to please God.
Chief Cochran believes that sex is reserved for marriage, a union between one man and one woman—a belief that is shared by millions of other people of faith. He decided to express this belief and he was punished for it.
That is not respecting personal freedom—it's saying that Chief Cochran's biblical values and his speech is less important than those of people who disagree with the Bible on the topic of sexuality and marriage.
Christians should not have to stay silent about their faith in the workplace. Please spread the word about this story on social media and encourage your fellow Christians to be bold in their faith. If we don't take a stand for Christ, who will?