Saturday, January 31, 2015
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Morality in America

Morality in America

When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.

Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage.  After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.

A Firestorm Over Freedom

Morality in America

Atlanta may again be the test case for religious liberty

By Gigi Cook

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran is out of a job, and State Representative Ed Setzler says the episode is just another in a number of “outright examples” of an individual’s religious beliefs being deemed unacceptable by the government of Atlanta, Georgia. As a legal matter, the issue may eventually be settled in court, but as a social issue people of faith are outraged.

Mayor Kasim Reed dismissed his seven year veteran fire chief on January 6, after 30 years of distinguished public service. Kelvin Cochran was terminated following a month long suspension while state examiners investigated a book he wrote for his church’s Bible Study Group, entitled, “Who Told You That You Are Naked?” Mayor Kasim charges the book contains “a number of passages” that “directly conflict with the city's nondiscrimination policies."

Describing his self-published book, Cochran said the topic of sex couldn’t be avoided.

“You can’t talk about men overcoming condemnation and deprivation unless you talk about sex and you can’t talk about sex unless you talk about it within the context of Scripture and God’s purpose for sex, which is procreation. And you can’t talk about procreation without talking about how God designed it, which is to be between a man and a woman. They’re the only two who can make babies.”

Mayor Reed stated he was "deeply disturbed" over the publication yet asserts the firing had nothing to do with Cochran’s Christian faith. In a letter to his supporters he said:

“I believe his actions, decisions, and lack of judgment undermined his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse workforce,” the mayor wrote. “His actions and his statements during the investigation and his suspension eroded my confidence in his ability to serve as a member of my senior leadership team.” Reed specifically claims Cochran did not follow proper ethical procedure in publishing the piece.

Cochran strongly maintains his dismissal was all about religion; recounting that the director of Atlanta's ethics office indeed gave him permission to write the book, and in addition gave specific permission to include that he was the city's fire chief in his biography.

Supporters of religious freedom are outraged. Evangelist Franklin Graham called Cochran the “latest target of politically correct bullying against Bible-believing Christians.” And The Georgia Baptist Convention has organized an online petition demanding that the firing be reversed.

Greg Scott, a spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said that the chief and Alliance attorneys were “currently assessing legal options” that might “vindicate his right to free speech.” Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for the ADF, said such bizarre behavior by a big-city mayor cannot be allowed to stand or America will pay a heavy price in terms of lost freedom.

Cochran’s firing has already been cited as an example of religious persecution in Georgia. State Senator Josh McKoon, a sponsor of legislation last year addressing a similar issue, is eager to address the issue again. Last year the legislation died after critics said it would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against gays on religious grounds. Another bill has been pre-filed in the State House of Representatives in anticipation of the coming legislative session, which starts this month.

Mayor Reed is among those who oppose any type of religious freedom bill. At his latest press conference, the mayor repeated his denial that Chief Cochran was fired for his religious beliefs:

"I want to make my position and the city of Atlanta's position crystal clear … The city's nondiscrimination policy … really unequivocally states that we will not discriminate." And any individual who violates that policy or creates an environment where that is a concern will not continue his or her employment with the city government.”

In a statement by Cochran released through the ADF he says he is “heartbroken” over the situation:

“The most baffling thing is that I had permission to write my book, and I was exonerated of discriminating against anyone. This happened to me, but it’s really not about me. It’s a warning to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are hanging by a thread, which will snap if we don’t fight to preserve these cherished protections.”

People of Faith Pray:

Gigi Cook is a writer, speaker and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist with a Masters Degree in psychology.  Her work is featured in major radio markets, media publications and corporate leadership programs. Now residing in Salt Lake City, UT,  Gigi enjoys her work and collecting American Antiques.

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