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.Read more
Faith Driven Consumer launches petition campaign asking Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to apologize for discriminating against Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran — fired simply for expressing his protected religious convictions — and reinstate him immediately
(Raleigh, NC, January 8, 2015) — Faith Driven Consumer™ — the advocacy organization representing 41 million Christian consumers who spend $2 trillion annually, has earned national recognition for its successful efforts advocating for tolerance and equality for people of faith. Last year, the group's #IStandWithPhil campaign led the grassroots movement that returned Phil Robertson to Duck Dynasty, its #FlipThisDecision campaign compelled SunTrust bank to reverse a decision to fire the Benham brothers for expressing their religious beliefs, and its #HoustonWeHaveAProblem effort resulted in an apology by Houston’s mayor for discriminating against a group of area pastors and a withdrawal of subpoenas that had been issued against them.Read more
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and religion for all Americans, regardless of belief, and you have publicly advocated for making Atlanta “a more welcoming city for all of her citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and religious beliefs.” In light of this, your decision to terminate Atlanta's distinguished Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran — a public servant with more than three decades of experience who has served President Obama as U.S. Fire Administrator and was unanimously confirmed as Atlanta’s fire chief —constitutes the absolute height of hypocrisy.
Chief Cochran, exercising his legally protected rights, expressed his religious convictions in his recent book. He even cleared its contents with your own Ethics Office Director. Despite this, you chose to fire him simply because you disagree with his religious beliefs. This action is not only un-American, it constitutes intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination.
We live in a rich, diverse society. A society with differing viewpoints and beliefs, a society of open discourse in which tolerance and inclusion makes it possible for us to disagree with respect. We also live in a society that values equality, including the notion that everyone has the right to publicly express deeply held beliefs without fear of persecution or reprisal. People of faith – who are a significant part of America’s rich rainbow of diversity – share the same fundamental rights as all other groups.
Chief Cochran and the citizens of Atlanta should all have the right to equal application of equal protections under the law. If one group is protected for its beliefs, all groups must be protected.
By signing this petition, I join my fellow citizens in a united call for tolerance, fairness, and equality for all.
I am asking you to:
- Immediately reinstate Chief Cochran.
- Apologize for your unjust actions against Chief Cochran.
- Ensure that no person of faith in Atlanta will be singled out by your administration simply due to the expression of their religious convictions.
As we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, a holiday honoring an Atlanta native who bravely stood for equality and civil rights, I call on you to respect and honor his legacy. As Dr. King famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”