Speakers Include: Garland Hunt, Mike Griffin, Pastor Richard Lee, Ken Barun, Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., and Dr. Gerald L. Durley
Stating that “the voice of the body of Christ” must be heard, Atlanta pastors and conservative leaders gathered at the Georgia State Capitol to express support for fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. The “Standing for Our Faith” Rally took place on Tuesday afternoon. The Chief Counsel of Cochran’s legal action team said, ‘our calling to preach the Gospel, teach the Gospel, and live the Gospel in the marketplace is at stake.’
A petition of over 35,000 signatures was also delivered to the Atlanta City Hall demanding that Mayor Kasim Reed reverse his decision to fire Mr. Cochran. Cochran wrote a book titled, Who Told You You Were Naked?, which stated that homosexual activity as well as other forms of sexual perversion were sinful according to the Bible.
Kelvin Cochran was in attendance at the rally.
Pastor Craig Oliver of the Elizabeth Baptist Church, where Kelvin Cochran attends, said the former fire chief had been “penalized based upon his faith, based upon what he believes.” Oliver called Mayor Reed a “friend”, but said he was wrong to fire Cochran. Pastor Oliver challenged Christians to continue to pray for the mayor, for the city of Atlanta, and for Kelvin Cochran.
J. Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, represented 3,600 Baptist churches in the state. He called for lawmakers to pass a religious liberty law and criticized a New York Times editorial which stated that Cochran “should be held to a higher standard” even though an investigation found that Cochran had never discriminated against anyone who worked in the fire department. White said that in firing Cochran, Mayor Reed lost one of his most loyal employees.
Bishop Wellington Boone, of the Fellowship of International Churches, said Cochran’s stand and the Mayor’s firing of him had “awakened a sleeping giant.” Boone said, “We must be clear about the difference between civil rights and unalienable rights.” Civil rights are rights given by man; unalienable rights are rights given by God. He urged the “thousands who agree” with Cochran to buy his book to show their support. He declared that “revival has started in Atlanta.”
The chief of staff of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Ken Barun, called the opposition faced by Cochran “a personal affront and an affront to God.” He said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association had been “all over the world” and had seen persecution of Christians in many countries. “To see it here in our own country — that’s crazy.”
Quoting the First Amendment, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rev. A.D. King, Alveda King spoke briefly at the rally. “We are of one blood, one human race. No matter how we are born, we are all created equal to love and serve the Lord. We can all be born again.”
She was followed by Bishop Paul S. Morton who said “about time” for such a gathering. He said he’s afraid “the church today is becoming like wimps, we’re afraid to talk about Who we believe in and what we believe in.” He added, “I feel change coming in this place today.” Morton said he didn’t want to see “this country… become a communist country.” First, he explained, they will try to “stop us from talking about the Bible. The next step is they will take our Bibles. And if they hear us still talking about the Bible, then they will try to penalize us.” Morton concluded, “I believe in human rights. If we say we’re standing with Michael Brown [and] standing with Eric Garner, I think it’s time to stand for God!”
Announcing that the Family Research Council had gathered 31,000 petition signatures in support of Kelvin Cochran, Tony Perkins drew on last week’s terror attacks in Paris and stated that the right to free speech — which belongs to the Charlie Hebdo magazine as well as Kelvin Cochran — is the cornerstone of democracy. Perkins said, “Chief Cochran… stands ready to fight the fires and flames of intolerance that threatens the freedom of every American. I am here to stand by his side.”
Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of Atlanta’s Salem Bible Church applauded the mayor for bringing the city back from the brink of bankruptcy and his initiatives to help the homeless. But he said that on the issue of firing Kelvin Cochran the mayor was wrong. Retired pastor and prominent Atlanta civil rights leader, Dr. Gerald L. Durley, also spoke.
Kelvin Cochran spoke last. He was introduced to wild cheers. He said, “I am overwhelmed and humbled by this tremendous show of support and by the powerful words spoken by these men and women of God this afternoon.” Quoting First Peter 4:12-13, Cochran said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” He then led those gathered in the Georgia State Capitol rotunda in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and the preamble to the Constitution.
Speaking one week to the day when he was fired, Cochran said he never imagined that the dream job he had wanted since childhood would be taken away from him for the expression of his Christian faith. He said, “One thing we should not have to sacrifice are the freedoms we inherit in our great nation — free speech and freedom of religion.”
He said, “This event is not just about Kelvin J. Cochran. This event is to raise attention and awareness to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion is under attack. As Christians, we have to fight the good fight of faith to preserve these cherished protections. We cannot allow our divisions by denomination, race, political party or geography to continue to weaken the collective voice of the body of Christ.”
He encouraged prayer not only for him and his family but also for “my beloved little brother in Christ, Mayor Kasim Reed” and the city of Atlanta. “I have decided to follow Jesus,” he concluded. “No turning back, no turning back.”
After the rally, the speakers led the audience across the street to the Atlanta City Hall where they delivered what was reported to be 40,000 signatures in support of Kelvin Cochran.
Religious leaders gather outside of the Georgia State Capitol to protest a decision by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to terminate Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Supporters believe the decision was based on religion, while the Mayor contends the decision was about judgement and protocol.
–Fox 5 Atlanta
Christians Rally to Support Atlanta Fire Chief
Kelvin Cochran is a decorated firefighter. He is also a devout Christian. He’s a deacon at a Baptist church and also teaches Sunday school. By all accounts – he is a decent and honorable man. And now – he is unemployed.
Cochran, who served seven years as the chief of the Atlanta Fire Departmant lost his job over a book he wrote about biblical morality titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” A small portion of the book contained what critics called homophobic language.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran last month. He was fired on Jan. 6 – the day he was supposed to return to work.
“I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community,” Reed wrote last November on his official Facebook page. “I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”
Reed told reporters Cochran was not fired because of his religious beliefs. Rather, he said, the fire chief was ousted because of poor judgment. The mayor accused the chief of not getting permission to write the book – a charge Cochran denies.
The mayor also alleged Cochran distributed the book to members of the fire department. Cochran readily admits that he gave copies of the book to close associates within the department. It should be noted that the individual who initially complained about the book did not receive a copy from the fire chief.
And for the record – a city investigation determined the fire chief had not discriminated against LGBT employees.
Source: Fox News | Todd Starnes
Read Chief Kelvin Cochran’s Christian Testimony in Decision Magazine
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Decision Magazine.
It’s not often that a fire chief’s goal is to start fires, but that’s exactly what Shreveport Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran aimed to do as executive chair of the Ark-La-Tex 2005 Franklin Graham Festival. “We are trying to set our community on fire for the Lord,” he said. Here is his own story of how Jesus Christ has changed his life.
I grew up in the Allendale section of Shreveport, a poor area close to downtown. I had three big brothers and two little sisters. While we were still small, my father and mother separated, so my mother raised all six of us by herself.
At one point we moved to the 1600 block of Rear Snow Street. It was there I realized how terrible it was to be living in poverty in our little shotgun house. My brothers and I all slept in one bed, my two little sisters in another bed in the same room. My mother received food stamps and was on welfare.
It was also there that I first confessed faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized—at Galilee Baptist Church. One Sunday, back at our house after church, we heard a fire truck that sounded as though it was coming right at us. We opened the door and saw the house across the street on fire. I was fascinated as I watched the fire fighters. From that time on, my dreams were to get out of poverty and to be a fire fighter.
After high school, I went to college. But after about a year I found myself on academic probation—I was more focused on having a good time than on getting good grades. While I was on probation I filled out an application for the fire department, and I received a call from a chief officer. That call ultimately led to my becoming a Shreveport firefighter in 1981.
Source: BillyGraham.org | Kelvin Cochran