October 17, 2018 - Wednesday
City Burned by Fire Chief Discrimination
Nothing can take back what happened to Kelvin Cochran after he was fired for his faith, but a $1.2 million settlement certainly helps. The former Atlanta fire chief, who was terminated back in 2014 for writing a Christian Bible study, may never get those four years back -- but at least he'll have closure.
This week, the Atlanta City Council agreed to settle with the Obama appointee by an 11-3 vote, putting an end to a personally and professionally challenging chapter in Cochran's life. After 34 years of trying to reach the very job they fired him from, Kelvin was astounded. "The city basically said you have to check your beliefs at the door when you work for the government," his attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom's David Cortman, said. "You don't promote diversity by firing people who disagree with your opinion."
Before the controversy, his promotion had been "a childhood dream come true, a fairytale career," he told Fox News's Todd Starnes. "My life is a story of faith and patriotism." The city gave offered several reasons for giving this public servant the pink slip -- but a later investigation concluded that there was no evidence that Cochran's beliefs compromised his leadership. FRC's Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy, Alexandra McPhee, explains that throughout the legal battle, even the court recognized Cochran's reputation as "an excellent Fire Chief" and his mission to "assemble a group of firefighters, who represented diverse backgrounds, characteristics, and beliefs" -- including at least two employees who identified as LGBT under his leadership.
"Not all of Cochran's constitutional arguments were accepted by the court," Alexandra points out. "But Cochran's large settlement is a signal that the city knows that it has the losing side of the argument. "The government is here for the people, not the other way around. No American should be punished simply for holding beliefs that are different from the government." Let this be a lesson for the Left: Discrimination will cost you.
Meanwhile, Georgians will tell you that there's no way to stop what happened to Kelvin from happening again -- not if the state keeps refusing to pass a religious freedom law like Mississippi's. Hopefully, that'll be a deciding issue in next month's election between Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who've taken very different stances on the importance of a policy that would make this kind of religious intolerance illegal.
To see where the two gubernatorial hopefuls stand, check out this article in the Savannah Morning News.