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Fire Chief Loses His Job After Controversy Over Christian Book He Wrote — and Here's the Bible Verse Atlanta's Mayor Used Against Him

Former fire chief Kelvin Cochran (Facebook)

A fire chief who was terminated following statements he made about homosexuality in a self-published Christian book is at the center of controversy over religious liberty and civil rights.

Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who was suspended and subsequently terminated over comments he wrote in a book titled, "Who Told You That You Are Naked?" has received support from Christians groups who believe that he should be reinstated to his post.

But Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who officially announced the firing Tuesday, said at a press conference that Cochran's judgement was at the center of his firing, citing a Bible verse to make his case against the former fire chief, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I, too, am a person of very deep religious faith ... 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, 'Let all things be done decently and in order' and I want to make very clear in my judgement that was not done here," Reed proclaimed. "Chief Cochran's book … was published in violation of the city's standards of conduct, which require prior approval of the ethics officer and the board of ethics."

Watch Reed's announcement below:

While Reed claims that he wasn't consulted before the book was written and that Cochran, who spoke out about his battle with the city to religious groups when he was reportedly told not to, isn't being persecuted because of his faith, the former fire chief has offered a different version of events.

Cochran claims Atlanta ethics officer Nina Hickson gave him verbal permission to write the book and that he had given a copy to Reed's office last January, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Reed launched an investigation in November after it was revealed that the book discussed homosexuality in a negative light. While those results have not been released, Cochran was subsequently dismissed this week.

According to WXIA-TX, the book referred to homosexuality as "a sexual perversion," "unclean" and "vulgar," leading Reed to separate himself from the ideals espoused in the text; Cochran was given a month-long suspension in November.

Members of the fire department had reportedly complained over Cochran's purported distribution of the book to some staffers, the outlet reported.

"I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran's book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration's work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all citizens — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and religious beliefs," the mayor wrote in a November Facebook post.


Cochran, who was terminated Tuesday after reportedly refusing to resign, has defended himself and his views, claiming that he is "not apologetic for writing the book."

He argued that his words in the book were based on biblical scripture and were not merely his opinion.

"LGBT citizens deserve the right to express their beliefs regarding sexual orientation, and deserve to be respected for their positions without hate and discrimination," Cochran recently said. "But Christians also have the right to express their beliefs regarding sexual orientation and be respected for their position without hate and without discrimination."

In an interview with conservative commentator Todd Starnes, he said that he did "not single out homosexuality."

"I simply spoke to sex being created by God for pro-creation and He intended it to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony – and that any other sex outside of that is sin," Cochran said.

And while Reed said that it was the former fire chief's conduct at the center of his dismissal, comments made during Tuesday's press conference did call into question the religious beliefs the chief espoused in the book, claiming that they put the city at risk of legal ramifications.

"If we had made the decision to retain Chief Cochran ... folks in the first rescue department who may have been discriminated against in some future occasion would have had a valid case in my mind," Reed said. "But after the fire chief so clearly stated his position on a number of issues, I thought that it created a potential liability for the city."

(H/T: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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