LISTEN: The Fired Atlanta Fire Chief and the Waning of True Religious Freedom in America (The Torch Leadership Foundation’s Cross in Culture Podcast #12 with Daniel Whyte III)

Kelvin Cochran
Kelvin Cochran
Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

Christians have long considered America a haven for freedom of expression especially in regards to religious matters. Many of the groups of people who first settled on American soil came because they were fleeing religious persecution of some kind. They were Puritans, Quakers, Pilgrims, Moravians, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans. They came to America because they wanted to be free to express their religious views and carry out their religious duties without being under the threat of censure or persecution.

On December 15, 1791, the U.S. Congress adopted the first amendment to the Constitution which prohibited the government from making any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Eleven years later, in his letter to a Baptist association in Danbury, CT, Thomas Jefferson outlined the oft-referenced doctrine of separation of church and state.

Well, recent events in our nation seem to indicate that the good old days of being able to exercise your religious rights as a Christian in this country without being harassed or ostracized are drawing to a close. This past week the Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran, who is also a deacon, Sunday School teacher and Bible study leader at the Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, was fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reid because he wrote a Bible study book titled, Who Told You That You Were Naked? In the book, which was written to help men “fulfill their purpose as husbands, fathers, community leaders, and business leaders,” Mr. Cochran simply stated that homosexuality along with other forms of sexual perversion, including ‘sodomy, lesbianism, pederasty, and bestiality,’ are wrong and sinful according to the Bible.

Mr. Cochran said, ‘I did not single out homosexuality. I simply spoke to sex being created by God for pro-creation and [that] He intended it to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony — and that any other sex outside of that is sin.’ Mr. Cochran gave a copy of his book to the mayor as well as to others in the fire department whom he had personal relationships with.

In November, after a complaint from a homosexual rights group, the Atlanta mayor publicly condemned Cochran, suspended him without pay, and ordered him to complete sensitivity training. Now, just this past week, he fired Cochran from his job as the fire chief of Atlanta — a position he held for seven and a half years total, including one year of service as fire administrator for the Obama administration, in addition to eight years of service as fire chief of Shreveport, LA.

The firing of Kelvin Cochran is a huge wake-up call for Christians in America. Our country is sadly moving into a stage where Biblical views on current issues are not welcome in the public square. However, too many Christians and too many churches are carrying on with business as usual even as a sea change in our culture is happening around them. Christians in America must wake up and realize what time it is.

We applaud and support those who are consistently sounding the alarm over the atrocious crimes that are committed against Christians in countries in the Middle East and Asia. We should do all that we can to support them, to lift them up in prayer, and to help them however we can. But we must also realize that persecution has come to the shores of America. Atheists, secularists, humanists, promoters of the homosexual agenda, and some progressives and liberals want to see Christianity eradicated from government, politics, the media, educational institutions, the workplace, and the boardroom. They want to see Christians silenced and pushed into a corner.

Unfortunately, many Christians — pastors included — have a tendency to buckle under the pressure. It is easier to just step quietly aside presumably in the name of tolerance. It is easier to just acquiesce in order to avoid criticism. However, that is not what America needs and that is not what God expects of us at this time.

Now is the time for Christians to stand up for God, biblical principles, common sense, and morality in this country. Now is also the time for us to stand behind and publicly support those — like Kelvin Cochran — who are bearing the brunt of the attack on Christianity in our nation. We must not be silent now.

By the way, in the wake of his firing, Kelvin Cochran’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, has been climbing the charts on Amazon. As of Saturday morning, it is a bestseller in three categories and ranked at #591 overall on Amazon. You can show your support for this dear brother by going to right now, purchasing a copy of his book for yourself and for others in your church, and leaving a review expressing your support for his biblical stance. Here is a direct link:

You can let Mayor Kasim Reed know that you disagree with his firing of Kelvin Cochran by calling 404-330-6100 or by sending him a message on Twitter at @KasimReed.

In closing, let me leave you with this verse from Scripture. Second Timothy 2:12 says, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I believe with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions.’

In light of what we have discussed today, I want to remind you that in our ever-changing world, there is one Person who never changes. That person is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is not subject to the whims of society or popular opinion. He has an unchanging, unconditional, eternal love for you. If you do not know Him as your Savior, I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thank you for listening to this Torch Leadership Cross in Culture Podcast.

Visit us online at

Until we meet again, remember to keep Christ first in our ever-changing culture.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.

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