March 7, 2016

Today's paranoid claim of Christian persecution on Fox and Friends pertains to the case of the Evangelical Atlanta Fire Chief who was fired 'for expressing his Christian Faith.' He wrote a controversial book entitled Who Told You That You Were Naked?. In January of 2015, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made his decision to terminate Kelvin Cochran for various reasons.

The announcement of Cochran's firing comes after he was suspended for one month without pay after publishing the book that Reed said contained, "disturbing sentiments about the LGBT community."

Reed listed among the reasons motivating his decision the fact that Cochran wrote a book with inflammatory language without asking permission from him and that he spoke out during the investigation.

The ex-fire chief has contracted the legal assistance of the ADF, the Alliance Defending Freedom group which defends the religiously 'persecuted.' His lawyer, David Cortman, has his own ugly history of advocating for the homophobic. ADF's website explains their mission:

Building an Alliance for Victory

With that launch, the Christian community gained growing awareness that the threats to its freedom were multiplying. The legal system, which was built on a moral and Christian foundation, had been steadily moving against religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. And very few Christians were showing up in court to put up a fight.

The ADF is much like the Liberty Counsel who defended the homophobic bakery in Oregon. This case also sounds an awful lot like the Indiana RFRA controversy that sanctioned the idea that homophobic persecution under the guise of religious freedom is perfectly acceptable in a 'free' society. But Cochran and his attorney are both claiming that the ex-chief's First Amendment rights are being disregarded here. However, they are ignoring the reality that a public official is not permitted to spew hateful rhetoric without consequences.

“According to the investigative report by the city’s law department released yesterday, Cochran distributed the book to nine of his subordinates, including three who didn’t ask for a copy. In one case, he gave the book to a battalion chief during a counseling session for the man’s promotion to assistant chief.”

Cochran’s remarks in his self-published book also went against Atlanta’s nondiscrimination policy, to which he agreed to adhere to upon being hired. He also spoke to media during this ongoing investigation when his superiors explicitly told him not to. There’s a common theme here of Cochran directly disobeying written and verbal commands from his employers.

The Mayor of Atlanta went on record asking people to “stop trying to make this about religious freedom.”

Kelvin claims that his definition of 'Biblical Marriage' was precisely what caused the controversy. He doesn't seem to understand that in our modern society, the writings of nomadic desert dwellers from several thousand years ago are not held in higher esteem than the laws drafted by the Democracy of the U.S.A. The contention here is not just the content of hate speech in his writings, but his blatant disregard for following protocol.

He knew that he needed permission, but failed to follow the city’s regulations to obtain written permission, something a Chief must know as part of his position’s duties. The attempt to swirl this issue into a messy and costly legal storm on the basis of religious discrimination is utterly laughable. He violated a city regulation. He violated the trust of his subordinates by distributing controversial religious bullshit. Whether solicited or not, it is unethical to do so. He, as a department head in a large city, should have foreseen the potential for employees to feel offended and fear ramifications for coming forward with complaints.

We all know that this story will be portrayed rather disparately, depending on what 'news' outlet is featuring this controversy. Those with more of a penchant for fundamentalist, sanctioned hate will certainly side with the Chief, as they have on Fox 'News.' I suppose they are consistently on the wrong side of every issue, and why should this be any different?

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