The story of Kelvin Cochran is one that should never be forgotten. The former Atlanta Fire Chief was fired because of his faith — not in some oppressive country around the world, but here in the old “US of A.”
The good news is that the city of Atlanta has now settled the case, agreeing to pay Chief Cochran $1.2 million for their egregious violation of his First Amendment rights. The district court in Georgia had found the city’s arbitrary policy to be unconstitutional, saying:
This policy would prevent an employee from writing and selling a book on golf or badminton on his own time and, without prior approval, would subject him to firing. It is unclear to the Court how such an outside employment would ever affect the City’s ability to function, and the City provides no evidence to justify it.
I want to thank those of you who have been praying for Chief Cochran and his family, made calls, and signed our petitions to stand up for religious freedom. There is no question your voice had an impact on the outcome of this case and will continue to help us defend religious liberties for years to come.
Never forget that the ideology that made this unjust firing of an excellent employee and an honest man possible is still very much alive at the highest levels of government. We must continue to be engaged and call these incidents for what they are: anti-Christian bigotry.
Just this week, a judicial nominee was attacked for being associated with the very group (the Alliance Defending Freedom [ADF])who defended Chief Cochran in this case. ADF is a Christian organization and, as you know, in the eyes of the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) that makes them a “hate group.”
This is a great victory for religious freedom, no doubt! We must take the time to thank God for His grace and goodness in allowing us such victories.
But we must also remain on guard, shining the light of freedom and faith at every turn. The upcoming election is yet another opportunity and also a challenge for us to engage our brothers and sisters on the importance of these issues, encouraging them to stand up for what they believe.
Here is what Tanya Ditty, state director of Concerned Women for America of Georgia, who stood hand in hand alongside Chief Cochran, had to say on the new development and the next steps that are needed to make sure this injustice does not happen again:
Former Atlanta mayor, Kasim Reed, and his administration created a hostile work environment for people of faith. Kelvin Cochran was targeted by Mr. Reed and ultimately fired for simply writing a book based upon his Judeo-Christian beliefs. Kelvin Cochran never wavered in his faith in the midst of outright religious and workplace discrimination. Kelvin has always handled himself with dignity and honor. Justice has been served in the form of a $1.2 million settlement. CWA of Georgia calls on the City of Atlanta to revisit its discriminatory employment policies so to ensure all its employees are able to come to work without the fear of religious discrimination or job loss.