Atlanta forced to pay $1.2 million to fired Christian fire chief
In a big victory for freedom of religion and speech, the Atlanta city council agreed to pay former fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million in damages and attorneys' fees for firing him after he wrote a book expressing biblical views on sex and marriage.
After a December 2017 ruling found that the city discriminated against Mr. Cochran and violated his First Amendment rights by firing him for expressing Christian views with which they disagree, the city council on Monday agreed to pay out $1.2 million to the former chief for damages and attorneys' fees, reports Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization which represented Mr. Cochran.
"The government can't force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can't fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods," said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.
Theriot said he hopes the pay-out "will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants."
Cochran was suspended for 30 days without pay and told he had to attend "sensitivity training" by the city after writing the 162-page devotional book guiding men on how to be better fathers and husbands. Though an internal investigation from the city revealed that Cochran never discriminated against anyone, he was still terminated from his post.
Speaking to ADF, Cochran discussed how the accusations of discrimination by the city were particularly hurtful, since he recalls having to use a separate bed and kitchen utensils when he first started in the fire house because he was black.
Cochrane deserved a heck of a lot more than a million dollars. If "social justice" had been the cause, he would have gotten ten times that amount.
Nevertheless, this is a great victory for the forces of freedom. It's some welcome pushback against efforts to discriminate against and marginalize Christians in society.
Opposition to redefining marriage is not a "fringe" position, nor is it illegal. It is the deeply held belief of millions of people. But opposing the social justice agenda is tantamount to expressing "hate" and needs to be punished. The offender must be taught to "sensitize" himself against expressing politically incorrect views. In other words, he must be intimidated into keeping his mouth shut.
That this decision by the city council truly serves as a "deterrent" is doubtful, given the rampant discrimination in local governments across the nation. But it's a good start in the effort to regain some of the freedoms that have been threatened by social justice warriors.