Kelvin Cochran

Through Alliance Defending Freedom Kelvin Cochran, former Atlanta Fire Chief, is suing the City of Atlanta in federal court. Cochran is claiming that he was unlawfully terminated for his religious beliefs. The suit seeks Cochran’s reinstatement, compensatory damages, legal fees and the usual whatever-we-can-get.

Cochran thought that it was a good idea to hand out a self-published Christian book to subordinates. Titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” it counts
homosexual acts among a number of “vile, vulgar and inappropriate”
activities that serve to “dishonor God.” In another section Cochran wrote; “Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy,
homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of
sexual perversion.”

Cochran might very well believe that, as a Jew, I am on my way to Hell for not accepting Jesus Christ as my savior. That belief might even be consistent with scripture. However, distributing a self-published book to subordinates with the admonishment that Jews need to convert to go to Heaven is probably not the smartest thing to do. If that results in his termination it will be based on his judgment, not his religious beliefs.

Part of the tale has changed. On January 21, ADF claimed:

Though the city granted Chief Cochran permission to publish a Christian
book, it now claims that he did not have permission. In public
statements, city representatives have said that “His religious beliefs
are not the basis of the problem.”

In their complaint, ADF claims that the city’s permission was not required is spite of the city code which states:

Commissioners, deputy commissioners, department heads, chief
operating officer, deputy chief operating officers, chief of staff, deputy
chiefs of staff, bureau directors, and employees of the office of the
mayor who report directly to the mayor shall not engage in any private
employment or render any services for private interests for
remuneration, regardless of whether such employment or service is
compatible with or adverse to the proper discharge of the official duties
of such employee. However, the employees named in this paragraph
may engage in private employment or render services for private
interests only upon obtaining prior written approval from the board of
ethics in accordance with this paragraph.

On the other hand, ADF claims that Cochran had tacit approval based on a conversation with the city’s ethics officer and the fact that he had provided a copy of the book to Mayor Kasim Reed. This concedes the point that Cochran did not have prior written approval prior to publishing his tome.

Cochran also claims that he was in negotiations with another (unspecified) city prior to his suspension in November. That deal having gone south is supposed to be the basis for equitable relief. It’s an interesting addition because ADF concedes that another city’s mayor reached the same conclusion as Mayor Reed.

I suspect that the city will argue that this matter belongs in state court. When the city files its reply I will take up the matter again. Meanwhile, expect the Sisters of Perpetual Christian Constipation to gin up what looks like support for Cochran. Todd Starnes always has that look. Yesterday ADF sent out an email to supporters  (which is posted to their blog) titled 5 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Fire Chief #FiredForFaith — hash-tag and all.

ADF benefits from the simple calculus of the devout. If they win, the city pays Cochran’s legal fees and they get to keep all of the money that they raise off of the Christian outrage. If they lose, they get to keep all the outrage money plus they will then ask for more loot as victims of anti-Christian persecution. Either way, taxpayers get the bill for court costs plus the city’s legal fees and the tax deductions of ADF contributors. And so it flows.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.