Atlanta Shells Out $1.2 Million To Fire Chief Canned For Religious Book

Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

The city of Atlanta has agreed to pay former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million after suspending and then firing him in 2015 over statements he published in a religious-themed book.

Cochran wrote the book titled, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” in 2013, and he intended it to be used for a men’s Bible study aid. He handed out copies to a number of his friends and co-workers — people he said had requested them.

In the book, Cochran referred to homosexuality as a “perversion” in accordance with his own religious beliefs.

Two years later, in January of 2015, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran and then ultimately fired him, claiming that he had illegally promoted his book on the job.

City attorney David Gevertz noted that, in addition to claiming that homosexuality was a perversion, Cochran had “lumped together gay people, those who have sex outside of marriage and non-Christians with murderers, rapists, pedophiles and those who engage in bestiality.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12: Former Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), (L), speaks while flanked by Kelvin Cochran, (R), former chief of the Atlanta Fire Department, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony regarding the First Amendment Defense Act, To examine how the Supreme CourtÕs Obergefell v. Hodges ruling affects individuals who, and organizations that maintain a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction about marriage. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 12: Former Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), (L), speaks while flanked by Kelvin Cochran, (R), former chief of the Atlanta Fire Department, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony regarding the First Amendment Defense Act, To examine how the Supreme CourtÕs Obergefell v. Hodges ruling affects individuals who, and organizations that maintain a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction about marriage. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Cochran, who also served as U.S. Fire Administrator under President Obama, initially worked to get his job back by saying that throughout his life, he could only ever remember wanting three things:

  • I did not want to be poor, because we were very poor.
  • I wanted a family because my dad had left my mother.
  • I wanted to be a firefighter.

“Given my history and work throughout my career and with the city of Atlanta, I was shocked that writing a book and encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be, would jeopardize my 34-year career,” Cochran said.

When it became clear that was not going to be possible, Cochran filed a federal lawsuit against the city, arguing that in addition to violating his free speech and due process, Mayor Kasim Reed had done so much damage to his name and reputation that he could never find work as a firefighter again.

That lawsuit has now been settled, and the city has agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million.

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