Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Atlanta Fire Chief Cochran fired for Christian views on homosexuality

This is the story of Kelvin Cochran, former Atlanta Fire Chief.

But it's so much more. It is really the story of how to glorify God when you are being persecuted.

It's how to publicly express your faith in love when the world hates you.

It's seeing the miracle of God using for good what they meant for evil.

The beginning of the story is that Kelvin Cochran, family man, Baptist, Sunday School teacher, men's Bible study leader, and Atlanta Fire Chief, wrote a book in 2013 stemming from his bible study class, entitled "Who Told You That You Are Naked?" The title refers to the moment in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, and hid from God when they heard Him walking in the garden. God asked the man and woman, "who told you that you were naked?" Throughout his book, Cochran also refers to being naked as being not-covered with the righteousness of Christ.

In Cochran's book when he refers to naked men, of course he isn't being literal. It refers to the nakedness unsaved people live in with being exposed to Jesus without the covering of His righteous blood.

Mr Cochran shares his faith, something that he stated in the book that "it's his first priority within the department “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God." Chief Cochran has said in many interviews that this job as the Atlanta City Fire Chief is a dream come true. That ever since he was five years old, he has pursued a career as a firefighter. And yet for all that focused intent on pursuing his life's dream, he puts Jesus first. The purpose of Kelvin Cochran's life is to glorify God, and the Fire Station is just as good a place as any other on earth in which to be Christ-like and to speak of his faith. Where Chief Cochran loves to be is the Station, where he longs to be is with Jesus. His duty as a Christian is to show people his love for Jesus in heaven while Cochran is still on earth.

Along the way, he published a book. It's aimed at men, how to be good husbands, leaders, men, based on God's standards for doctrine and for life. In it, Cochran spelled out exactly what God's standards for purity are, purity in works, purity in thought, and including sexual purity.

Cochran wrote,
“Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”
“Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body – temple and dishonor God.”
Less than a half a page in the 160-page book mentioned homosexuality.

That doesn't matter to the homosexual people.

The First Amendment of the United States' national constitution, part of the United States' Bill of Rights, says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Not for Kelvin Cochran. Not for an increasing number of Christians.

The Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual lobby discovered the book's existence in November of 2014, and raised an outcry. Cochran was suspended with no pay for one month. He was due back to work this week.

Various reasons were given for his suspension.
--he distributed the book on government property without prior consent of the Mayor (his boss)
--he failed to alert the Mayor he was writing the book
--his views likely mean he has in the past, or will in the future, discriminate against LGBT people in hiring practices at the Fire Station
--his book is in violation of the city’s standard of conduct
--his language is so extreme, so belittling of gay and transgender people that he could not effectively lead a diverse workforce

During the one-month suspension, no one heard from Cochran. On Sunday, January 3, he did speak at Atlanta's First Baptist church during the GA Baptist Convention regarding his testimony. The Times-Herald reported,
Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin J. Cochran spoke to the “blessings of suffering” during his message delivered at First Baptist Church on Sunday. Coming off a one-month suspension because of a passage on homosexuality in a self-published book he wrote, Cochran expressed that his time off allowed him to spend more time with his family and enjoy the Christmas season 
“God intended for men and women are to be together to have children and populate the Earth,” Cochran said. “And any sex outside marriage and outside of a man and woman in holy matrimony is against the word of God. For that stand, I have been laid off for 30 days without pay.” However, Cochran emphasized that he is not a victim of his beliefs, nor is he discouraged or disheartened.
I love our city, and honor and respect our mayor and love all the people of the world,” Cochran said. “I took an oath to die for all people, under any circumstance. This is not about me, it’s about the Lord.” Cochran stated that his reputation was not on the line. “I took a stand for Christ, and it’s his reputation that is on the line,” he said. “Jesus never throws us under the bus. He will be glorified and I will be vindicated once all the truth comes out.”
On Monday, the one-month suspension was to be concluded. Mayor Kasim Reed was to have pondered, investigated and come to a decision. He did.

Chief Cochran was fired.
The LGBT members of our community have a right to be able to express their views and convictions about sexuality and deserve to be respected for their position without hate or discrimination,” Cochran told me in an exclusive interview. “But Christians also have a right to express our belief regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and without discrimination. In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.”
Mayor Reed disagrees that it is about religious faith. Reed says it is about judgment. Chief Cochran's judgment that is, being impaired due to extreme views.

There is some back and forth about Mayor Reed's knowledge of Cochran's book. A sort of what did Reed know and when did he know it?
Reed said that he had no knowledge that Cochran was writing a book. However, Cochran 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. Cochran said he gave a copy of the book to Mayor Reed in January 2014 and the mayor told him he planned on reading it during an upcoming trip. 
Cochran wants to make clear that he does not hate anyone. “The essence of the Christian faith is a love without condition, sir,” he told me. “I have demonstrated that love in the fire service for 34 years. There’s not any person of any people group that has interacted with me for any measure of time that can say I have hate or disregard or discrimination in my heart for any people group.”
 Ex-Chief Cochran says he has no plans to appeal.

What does the bible say about situations like these?

1. They are inevitable. If you're a witnessing, mature Christian in the world, you will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).  None of this is a surprise to Chief Cochran. None of it should be a surprise to you or me, either. Our response to persecution is key. Cochran said he is not a victim of his beliefs nor is he disheartened or discouraged. I am sure that in addition, Chief Cochran feels blessed in some measure to be sharing the persecution of His king.

The Hatred of the World … "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15:19-20)

2. Turn the other cheek. Chief Cochran demonstrated the values Jesus imposed in Matthew 5:39, when Cochran says he hates no one, loves all people.

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

John MacArthur said in his blog essay Persecution and Submission,
...when persecution comes to the church, true believers don’t flee. Nor do they fight back against the persecution, or try to protest or legislate it away. Instead, authentic Christians submit to persecution.
3. He honors his boss. Mayor Reed had asked Chief Cochran not to speak to the media during the one-month suspension, and Cochran did not. Prior to that, Cochran said he'd gone to his boss's Ethics Committee to receive advice on the protocols regarding the book he was writing, and he said he also gave a copy to his boss. Cochran was doing the proper thing with his superior officers. The Chief says he has no plans to appeal. The bible says,

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, (1 Peter 2:13).

4. Remember that the world has an illogical mind when it comes to sin. Mayor Reed said of Cochran:
"His judgment and ability to manage the department was the subject of this inquiry.” Here is Cochran's bio, and mind you, it's only an excerpt. There's more.
Kelvin J. Cochran serves as First Vice President and Director of International Association Of Fire Chiefs Inc. His formal education post High School includes the U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Academy, Wiley College, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management (1999). In 2009, President Obama appointed him as the U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration. Mr. Cochran holds a Masters Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech (2004). Previously, he was a 26-year-veteran of Shreveport, LA fire department, having joined as firefighter in 1981, progressing through the ranks of training officer and assistant chief training officer before becoming fire chief in 1999.
It seems to me that his 'ability to lead and manage the department' would be stellar, and in fact, has been for 6 years. What I ask is, would the same level of scrutiny be present with an LGBT person leading and managing the department? Would they have sound judgment and no bias when it comes to hiring, training, and leading Christian folk they know object to their lifestyle? Of course not. But sin makes the carnal mind illogical, they have a debased mind. That means they don't think straight. (Romans 1:28). We understand that and simply continue showing the love of Christ, as Chief Cochran has done.

5. Trust the Lord. Chief Cochran ended his message to the Convention gathered at Fist Baptist Church by reciting Psalm 27, which he had memorized,
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations ... Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
6. The LORD always uses His people for Good. Chief Cochran knows that good will come from this. It has already. Many people, I'm sure, are encouraged by his response and take inspiration from it. I'm one of them. He is providing a template for how to respond when persecution comes to my door. The bible says,

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Chief Cochran's goal was to glorify Christ. He has done so, in an unexpected way. When the time comes, may we do the same.


11 comments :

  1. The Gaystapo will stop at nothing to silence their opposition - truth must not be allowed.

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  2. God bless our brother!

    -Carolyn

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    1. ETA regarding Jennifer's comment, at the time I made my first comment, I had not heard or read that Cochran gave the book to people under his leadership. After reading Jennifer's comment, I searched for an article to confirm her statement. I did find one this morning that said he gave the book to three employees who didn't ask for it.

      So I am pondering this... on one hand, we are told to evangelize the lost, and obey God not man. I don't know anything about his book, if it has a Gospel presentation in it or not, or if it is just a book on being a godly man, ie a book on practical Christian living. But on the other hand, if it was not an issue of evangelizing, then I would think giving it to people who didn't ask for it might be unwise. Of course without knowing the exact circumstances first hand of how and why Cochran gave the book to the three city employees, I can't judge or draw a conclusion.

      Either way, may the body lift up our brother at this time, and may the Lord be his shelter and shield.

      And yes, regardless, there is definitely a double standard in this world against Christian values and rights, just as Jesus said there would be.

      -Carolyn

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    2. Carolyn,
      Exactly. Its a situation where its one person's word against another's, and of course Mr. Cochran is going to view where he's coming from differently than those in the world will view it. I don't question his motives. I am sure that he meant well and he has certainly demonstrated he is a man of godly character. I also wonder about the circumstances of passing the books out to coworkers. Mr. Cochran may have felt a certain kinship with them that they may not have shared. So he felt they were friends but they didn't feel the same loyalty, therefore one of the individuals passed the book on to Wan, knowing it would cause a problem. Again, there is no concrete evidence either way, and I believe everyone involved is seeing it from different perspectives so it is not necessarily that anyone is being dishonest but they all have different belief's and values that influence how they read the situation. I'm just not sure that he didn't do something that wasn't truly "wrong" according to the rules at his work, regardless of his good intentions and the fact that he tried to be open about it to his superiors.
      Also, of course the media and politicians and world will spin this because they are determined to be rebellious, so there's that going on. I think it is good Elizabeth blogged about the situation but I stand by my initial position that the Christian community needs to be careful about crying foul over something, when technically he may have done something that is not legal. This does not dismiss the fact that Christians are not going to get a fair shake or that persecution is on the rise. But as far as persecution goes, I'm not sure its as high as everyone is carrying on about. I know its coming, but all these stats we hear, I believe, include large groups who are not truly Christians. (eastern orthodox, anyone?) People are certainly being persecuted for their RELIGIOUS beliefs around the world, but I don't think as large a percentage of those are really bible believing Christians. Here in America it is certainly becoming more anti-Christian every day. But this hysteria of 'Christian persecution', in my opinion, does more harm than good. Its a premature panic. Its coming, but I don't think its quite as bad yet as everyone seems to think it is. It just makes Christians in America look alarmist. And this idea that we should be indignant about our rights being violated.....scripture says otherwise. Western Christians have mixed up patriotism with their religion, but I am rambling....
      Jennifer

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  3. There is definitely a double standard in the world when it comes to Christians rights versus everyone else's. And I certainly have compassion for brother Cochran and see that he is handling this with grace and honoring our savior in his conduct. However, I think the reason he was fired is because he distributed his book at work to people under his leadership (I read this in several articles regarding the situation). Had he not done this, I am not sure he would be in the position he is in, OR if somehow someone had come across the book and gone after him and he was fired, THEN there would be reason for outcry. If he DID hand out the books at his workplace to other firemen, and that is not allowed by his employer, then it is a disservice to the cause of Christian rights to make a deal out of this. It will just do more harm than good (if he was in the wrong about the distribution). I do not believe the world will ever be fair or objective when it comes to equal rights with Christians, but since the Christian community always wants to campaign in these situations, I think they better be VERY careful which situations they pick to make an example of, because if there was legal cause for this mans firing, then there isn't a leg to stand on.
    ~Jennifer

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    1. Hi Jennifer,

      This link brings you to an interview with the Chief. He did give the book as a gift to several employees, with whom he was friends with already and had a previous Christian relationship. His gift did not violate the limit of the $25 gift policy.

      Another person, a homosexual, to whom the Chief had NOT given the book, got the book on his or her own, highlighted the passage relating to gays, brought it to an openly gay City Councilor (Mr Wan), and complained.

      I think Chief Cochran acted above board and compliant with all policies. I believe he was fired unjustly. So does he. More at the link

      http://www.bpnews.net/44020/fired-atl-fire-chief-i--trust-god

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    2. I liked this quote from the Chief in the NY Times article,

      When he took the oath of office, Mr. Cochran said, it ended with the phrase “So help me God.” If glorifying God was a violation, he said, “I should have been fired at the very end of my oath.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/us/atlanta-ousts-fire-chief-who-has-antigay-views.html?_r=1

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    3. It was reported that one of the "friends" that Chief Cochran gave the book to, passed it along to wan. Not sure I believe that. I certainly have more confidence in Mr. Cochran who is my brother, than a non believer who operates with an unregenerate mind. Its too bad that its a "he said/he said" situation and there isn't a paper trail. Bottom line, the Lord was glorified and Chief Cochran has lead us in example as you pointed out.
      Jennifer

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  4. We are heading into a time where the rule of the day will be to put the rod on the backs of those who stand with Christ. That being said I believe that because of her sins and playing the harlot, the American "COLLECTIVE church" those who profess Christ and yet follow other things including the doctrine of demons that has been sent out from many that you have warned about on this blog Elizabeth.
    It is time for everyone to examine themselves that they be found with faith upon His return.
    The "American church" because of her organization and affiliations with the government, has lost it's covering.

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  5. I think this last year or two has seen a dramatic turn and increase in the number and level and of course the unjustifiability of state persecution of Christians. Before this, there had always been public people losing public faith when it turned out that they were Christian, in truth or in name only. But now there's been a rash of hair-trigger firings and civil suits of eminent citizens in various places for exercising Christianity in ways that could hardly in most places be said to be public, let alone examples of them using their office to act in their capacity as a representative of a government or business to openly violate someone else's civil rights.

    I'm intending to gather a compilation of these events to see if the facts line up and do show an increase in the severity of persecution under just the last year.

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