Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran says he was fired because he wrote a book expressing his Christian faith, according to a discrimination complaint filed Jan. 19 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my religion,” Cochran wrote in the complaint.
His attorney, Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith, said the ADA wants to vindicate the former fire chief following his “unjust termination.”
“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts,” Tedesco said.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed threatened that the former fire chief’s reputation would be destroyed should he file a lawsuit.
“He’s gonna lose,” Reed told television station WAGA. “And in the process his reputation is going to be destroyed because people are going to see he’s dishonest.”
The EEOC complaint is the latest move in a battle between Cochran and Reed that has generated a national debate over religious liberty in the public marketplace since it began in November.
Cochran was suspended without pay on Nov. 24 for writing a book about biblical morality, Who Told You That You Were Naked? He said homosexuality is “vile” and listed it among other forms of “sexual perversions.”
He was also accused of giving the book to colleagues at work with whom he had personal friendships.
An investigation by the city of Atlanta found that “firefighters throughout the organization are appalled by the sentiments expressed in the book.”
The report went on to say that “there is also general agreement the contents of the book have eroded trust and have compromised the ability of the chief to provide leadership in the future.”
But the investigation found no evidence of discrimination against LGBT firefighters.
“There is currently no indication that Chief Cochran allowed his religious beliefs to compromise his disciplinary decisions,” the report states. “No interviewed witness could point to a specific instance in which any member of the organization has been treated unfairly by Chief Cochran on the basis of his religious beliefs.”
Cochran was cleared of any wrongdoing. But on Jan. 6—the day he was supposed to return to work—he was fired.
The mayor denied that Cochran’s faith had anything to do with his dismissal. Instead, he said it was lack of judgment and management skills. He also said Cochran violated the city’s code of conduct.
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SOURCE: Charisma News