Even after an internal investigation found that Chief Cochran had never discriminated against anyone, he was terminated by the mayor and city officials, ironically on the charge of the failure to tolerate diverse views. In reality it was solely due to his Christian faith and beliefs (and the fact that the mayor and officials failed to tolerate diverse views by discriminating against a Christian). At the time of his termination Cochran was quoted as saying:
“It’s ironic that the city points to tolerance and inclusion as part of its reasoning. What could be more intolerant and exclusionary than ending a public servant’s 30 years of distinguished service for his religious beliefs?”
“The most baffling thing is that I had permission to write my book and I was exonerated of discriminating against anyone.”
“This happened to me, but it’s really not about me. It’s a warning to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are hanging by a thread, which will snap if we don’t fight to preserve these cherished protections.”
So Cochran did decide to fight and contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to represent him in his lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. In December 2017 a federal district court ruled that the city of Atlanta’s actions, which led to the termination of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, were unconstitutional. Then on Monday, October 15, 2018, the City of Atlanta agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million for damages and attorney fees. ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said this about the case:
"The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods." Theriot also said he hopes the pay-out "will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants."
As we’ve said many times, the goal of groups opposing biblical marriage and sexuality are not “tolerance”; they are aimed at stifling any view except their own. We also thank God for legal organizations like ADF who fight for the rights of Christians against discrimination (as they recently did for our Director of Research and geologist Dr. Snelling regarding his Grand Canyon research permit).
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.