Friday, January 09, 2015

Dust-up in Atlanta

* Atlanta Fire Chief says, "I was fired because of my Christian faith."

On Tuesday of this week, the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia fired the city Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. This came at the end of a 30-day suspension. The cause traces back to a book Cochran wrote and published (originally for a Bible study at his church).

According to the mayor, he disagrees with and is "deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community" and "Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the Administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens."

City council member Alex Wan supported the mayor's termination of Cochran. He stated, "I support the administration's decision to terminate Kelvin Cochran's employment with the City of Atlanta. This sends a strong message to employees about how much we value diversity and how we adhere to a non-discriminatory environment."

Wan's statement is revealing. In the environment where diversity is valued, the diversity of a Christian who believes homosexual sex is immoral is not valued. One can believe anything as long as you don't believe anything is immoral. (If I write a book that mentions adultery is a sin, have I violated the diversity code of the workplace?)

Fire Chief Cochran said, "LGBT citizens deserve the right to express their belief regarding sexual orientation and deserve to be respected for their position without hate and discrimination, but Christians also have the right to express their beliefs as well."

The mayor was careful to steer the discussion away from freedom of religion and free speech. “This is about judgment,” he said, “This is not about religious freedom. This is not about free speech. Judgment is the basis of the problem.” The mayor has made no claim that the fire chief discriminated against anyone, but rather said that Cochran "violated the city's code of conduct." Whatever that means. Perhaps this is related to a "he said-he said" controversy in which the mayor claims his administration was not notified of the book before it was published, while the fire chief said "the director of Atlanta’s ethics office had not only given him permission to write the book, but to also mention in his biography that he was the city’s fire chief."

Ultimately, as I take it, the best the critics have to offer is not that Cochran discriminated against anyone on the basis of "sexuality" but that he merely had the potential to do so! While many profess to be deeply offended, it appears many of them have never read Cochran's book and simply take issue with the fact that (they have heard) he believes homosexuality is a sin. According to some reports homosexuality is only referenced once in the 160 page book, as a sexual sin against God. I have ordered the book and hope to report back what I find.


R. L. Vaughn said...

On November 24, Atlanta Kasim Reed stated regarding Kelvin Cochran, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”

Once the facts of Cochran's firing were released, it was found that there was no discriminatory treatment by Fire Chief Cochran toward anyone in the Atlanta Fire Department. Consequently, the firing was about the "sentiments expressed" rather than any actual discrimination on his part. However you put it, his religious views are what really got him in trouble.

R. L. Vaughn said...

No reasonable person would read this book and believe that Kelvin Cochran was "speaking in his capacity as AFRD Chief." On the copyright page there is a plain statement that the "views expressed in this work are solely those of the author." The statement that he is "Fire Chief of the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department" is included in the biographical information "About the Author." He is clear that this material is from a men's Bible study and that those men urged him to turn it into book form. For one to say he or she believes Cochran is somehow speaking for the city of Atlanta or the Fire Department is disingenous at best.

On page 82 Cochran lists: “Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.” It is understandable that those living as homosexuals would be offended, seeing this as deliberately comparing their actions to bestiality, for example. On the other hand, a bible student will read this and see it as listing things that could fall under Paul's category of "uncleanness" among the works of the flesh he mention (not as comparing one to the other in degree).