Update 1/13/2015 – Report from the “Standing for Our Faith Rally”
Today, at the Georgia State Capitol Rotunda, Christians gathered to rally in support of embattled former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was unjustly fired for expressing his personal, Bible-based views.
In a case that unites Americans across racial and political lines – and centers on our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religious expression – a number of high-profile speakers, including Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, spoke in support of Cochran and against the rise of anti-Christian discrimination and bigotry in the public square.
UPDATE 1/12/15: Fired Atlanta Fire Chief’s Pastor Speaks Out
Yesterday, Dr. Craig L. Oliver Sr., senior pastor at Elizabeth Baptist Church, where embattled former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran serves as a deacon, spoke out against Mayor Kasim Reed’s discriminatory action in firing Cochran, saying, “Just because you sign my paycheck doesn’t mean you can control what I think or say.”
As Faith Driven Consumers concerned about the increasing hostility toward expressions of biblically orthodox faith in the public arena today, we fully agree.
Wrapping up his sermon on forgiveness, Oliver added, “All Christians in Georgia and the nation should be greatly concerned” over Cochran’s removal.
This week, Faith Driven Consumers nationwide are speaking out against intolerance in Atlanta.
On Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed ousted Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran – a Christian – for biblical views expressed in a book Cochran wrote for a local bible study group, which briefly addressed scriptural teaching on sin and homosexuality. A highly respected leader who was appointed by President Obama as the top fire official in the nation, Chief Cochran first served as Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. Returning to the city following his service in the Obama Administration, he was unanimously reconfirmed as chief.
Despite having cleared his book with the director of Atlanta’s ethics office, the chief was suspended in November of last year when Mayor Reed bowed to pressure from LGBT activists. The mayor cited Cochran’s book as the reason for the action, stating he was “surprised and disappointed to learn of this book” and that he was “deeply disturbed” by its sentiments.
“I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind…” said Mayor Reed, calling Cochran’s beliefs inconsistent with the goal to “make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race and religious beliefs.”
In reality, Mayor Reed is doing exactly that. In choosing to defend one community while discriminating against the rights of another, he is demonstrating the very behavior he claims to admonish. This brazen hypocrisy has set off a firestorm nationwide.
Faith Driven Consumer immediately launched ExtinguishIntolerance.com – a petition campaign that calls for Mayor Reed to immediately reinstate Chief Cochran, apologize for discrimination and intolerance against him, and take immediate measures to ensure that other people of faith in Atlanta will be not be singled out and punished simply for expressing their religious beliefs.
And – immediately on the heels of the petition’s launch – Mayor Reed responded to the campaign, blocking Christians on Twitter who tried to engage in the conversation. Once again, Reed is demonstrating his unwillingness to listen to dissenting viewpoints.
As people of faith, we are called to love everyone, and also to stand for righteousness. Let’s stand alongside our brother in Atlanta and support Chief Cochran. Join us in signing the pledge to #ExtinguishIntolerance by going to ExtinguishIntolerance.com and making your voice heard.
As Atlanta native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”