Judge rules in favor of former Atlanta fire chief terminated over Christian book

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a former Atlanta fire chief who had been terminated for publishing a book containing Christian teachings on sexuality, saying the government cannot hinder its employees from expressing their religious beliefs.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Keizers)Fire Station 19, Virginia Highland neighborhood, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 1 May 2010.

A few years ago, Kelvin Cochran was terminated from his position as the chief of the Atlanta Fire Department after he published a book titled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" The said book targeted Christian men who wanted to perform their roles in the community based on what the Bible teaches, and six of its 162 pages explained the biblical stance on sexuality and marriage, Breakpoint detailed.

Mayor Kasim Reed fired Cochran after coming across the contents of his book and told him that city employees whose beliefs and opinions varied from that of the city's ought to "check them at the door." However, the city denied that the Christian official was dismissed because of his beliefs and instead said it was due to his failure to get permission for the book before it was published.

Atlanta's city attorney Bob Godfrey said Cochran's termination was a trust issue. He said it was all about the former fire chief's campaign to push people to get in touch with Mayor Reed, Fox 5 Atlanta relayed.

"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," said Cochran.

Last month, a federal court concluded that Atlanta could not require its employees to secure permission first before expressing their religious views. On the other hand, it also disagreed with Cochran's claims that the city had violated his rights to free speech and religious liberty when he was terminated.

For now, Cochran may be able to recover the salary and benefits that he lost when he was fired over his book. Breakpoint also said there was "a remote possibility" that he could be reinstated in his job.