Remarks by Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran

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“Standing for Our Faith Rally,” Georgia State Capitol

January 13, 2015


Good afternoon everyone.  I am overwhelmed and humbled by this tremendous show of support.  And by the powerful words spoken by these men and women of God this afternoon.  I want to end our time here at the state capitol in the spirit of faith and patriotism.  First Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

This moment, I’d like for you, even though I don’t see an American flag in here, I think we should have a patriotic moment.  Would you join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to our great nation?  “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Would you repeat this prophetic and faith-filled, patriotic words after me?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Give yourselves a round of applause.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is not enough time nor are there enough words for me to express the gratitude I have for the tremendous demonstration of love and support expressed to me from across the nation, but more especially, from across the state of Georgia and our beloved city of Atlanta during this fiery trial that I and my family have endured, even over the holiday season and to start off this new year.  My wife Carol and our children and I are strengthened and encouraged by your compassion and prayers.  Our resolved is as stated in 1 Peter 4:12-13, to be rejoicing and exceedingly glad in anticipation of the revealing of God’s glory and His Sovereign vindication of my character and my family.

After 34 years of dedicated service in the fire emergency services profession, seven of which committed to the city of Atlanta, I cannot imagined that my fairytale-childhood-dream-come-true career would end in termination one week ago at this very hour because of my public expression of my faith.

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I believe and know with all my heart that my termination was unjust.  I received permission to write the book from the ethics director and there is evidence that there is no hate or act of discrimination against any member from the LGBT community at large or at members of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department.

The greatest of my Christian values is a love without condition for all of humankind.  And I believe that every person, without exception, possesses the image of the Creator and as such has inherent dignity and worth.  In the fire service, I’ve had the privilege to live out this virtue every day for the last 34 years and I would have laid down my life for anyone in the communities of which I have served.  And I would gladly do so today, if necessary, even though I no longer serve in a capacity that requires the ultimate sacrifice.

But one thing we should not have to sacrifice are the freedoms inherent in our great nation: free speech and freedom of religion.  Freedoms for which so many in our country and our historic city have sacrificed and gave their lives for.  It has been said by Councilmember Alex Wan that my termination has made a great statement.  And I could not agree with him more.

It has made the statement that though there is no evidence that my religious beliefs have created a hostile work environment, as alleged, and no discrimination against any LGBT members of our community, there are grave consequences for publicly expressing our faith and having the audacity to believe that sex was created for procreation and should be in the bonds of holy matrimony between a man and a woman.

My termination has indeed made a great statement.  To all of the remaining city employees, if you seek to live out the true meaning of our nation’s pledge and constitution and have a faith, a living faith that does justice and believe that sex should be between a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony, we have made a great statement that you better keep your mouth shut or you will be fired.

These statements are an indictment against our American values and do not embrace the diversity of which we are so proudly boasting of here in our wonderful city of Atlanta.  Indeed, a strong statement has been made: all people groups are welcomed and embraced in the city of Atlanta, except the groups that believe the Scripture regarding God’s purpose for sex.

This experience has taught me that there are worldly consequences for publicly standing for righteousness.  But I stand before you to say that the Kingdom consequences are far greater and more glorious than the worldly consequences.

To that end, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ, let me emphasize that this event is not just about Kelvin J. Cochran.  This event is to raise attention and awareness to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under attack.  As Christians we have to fight the good fight of faith to preserve these cherished protections.

We cannot allow our divisions by denomination, race, political party or geography to continue to weaken the collective voice of the body of Christ.  The power that works within us can and will make a difference.  I covet your continued prayers and support, not just for me and my family, but also for my beloved little brother in Christ Mayor Kasim Reed and I covet your prayers for the city of Atlanta and all the wonderful citizens, that we may experience life, liberty and happiness in its full measure.  And pray that God pours out His grace on the United States of America.

I have decided to follow Jesus.  I have decided to follow Jesus.  No turning back, no turning back.

[Video of Chief Cochran’s speech is available here.]