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Fired for His Faith: Ex-Fire Chief's Lawsuit Moves Forward

12-17-2015

More than a year after being fired for his faith , former fire Chief Kelvin Cochran had his first win in his ongoing lawsuit against the city of Atlanta. 

Chief Cochran, once one of the highest ranked fire officials in the country appointed by President Obama, was terminated for expressing his religious views in a Bible study book he authored in his personal time. 
 
A federal court ruled Wednesday that Cochran's lawsuit against the city for unlawful termination will move forward.  City officials have fought hard to have the case thrown out.
 
Cochran's 34-year career was ripped away from him a year after authoring a men's Bible study book. Last November, he was abruptly terminated after a complaint about content in the book was sent to Alex Wan, a gay city councilman who then approached the mayor about firing Cochran.
 
The complaint involved a two-page passage in 162-page book about biblical views of sex - including statements against homosexuality, using terms like perversion, inappropriate, and unclean.

CBN News Reporter Abigail Robertson sat down with Chief Cochran in Atlanta. Click below to see more from her interview.

During Chief Cochran's initial 30-day unpaid suspension, an investigation was launched to determine whether he created a discriminatory environment in the office. Although the investigation cleared him, Cochran was terminated anyway. 
 
When asked about Chief Cochran's termination, Councilman Wan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I respect each individual's right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you're a city employee and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city's, you have to check them at the door."
 
While the court did dismiss some of Cochran's claims, according to his lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the court is moving the case forward on Cochran's primary claims of "retaliation, discrimination based on his viewpoint, and the violation of his constitutionally protected freedoms of religion, association, and due process (firing without following proper procedure)."   

"Tolerance must apply to people of different viewpoints, not just those who agree with the beliefs the government prefers," ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said. "Americans don't surrender their constitutionally protected freedoms when they become public servants."
 
Although the city claims Cochran was not terminated for his religious beliefs, Cochran's lawyers argued in October that the city's arguments themselves confirm Cochran's claim he was terminated for expressing religious beliefs city officials didn't like.
 
Chief Cochran told CBN News in October, "No American should have to choose between living out their faith and keeping their job."

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