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-A Win For Religious Liberty of Public Officials

by Dr. D ~ October 18th, 2018

City of Atlanta

  City of Atlanta

Last December we asked the following question in an article: “-Must Public Officials Give Up Their Religious Liberty?” We cited among others the case of Cochran v. City of Atlanta.

Kelvin Cochran was fired from his job as a Fire Chief in Atlanta, GA after he self-published a Christian devotional book meant to be used in his home church that in a few lines referenced Biblical teaching on homosexuality. LGBT activists demanded that Cochran be fired and the Mayor of Atlanta complied stating:

 "We will not discriminate on the basis of race or gender or religion or creed or sexual orientation or physical ability or gender identity."

Apparently however, it was ok to discriminate against Cochran’s Biblical Christian beliefs along with his free speech and his freedom of religion?

Since then a judge has ruled in his favor and the City of Atlanta has agreed to pay the former Fire Chief $1.2 Million for violating his First Amendment rights. From the Daily Wire:

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."

<Read the whole article>

Response: With this large pay out to Cochran for violating his religious freedom, we can expect the religious liberty of public servants and officials to be more secure in the future. What a great victory for the freedom of religion.

It should be pointed out that the former Fire Chief was never even accused of discriminating against anyone at any time. The city officials merely maintained that they did not want anyone in their employ that held Biblical beliefs about homosexuality:

"If you hold to these beliefs and express these beliefs, you cannot work for us."

That of course would mean that no conservative Bible believing Christians would be able to work for the City of Atlanta if they ever verbally admitted to holding those Biblical beliefs.

If all of the city’s employees were held to that standard and were queried about their Christian beliefs about homosexuality quite a few city workers would have lost their jobs. Even presumably some Muslim workers for that matter? This of course would be a religious test, religious discrimination, and a real violation of the Constitution. Just like the judge ruled.

Here’s a great article from Dr. Michael Brown also celebrating this outcome and analyzing what it might mean for religious freedom in the future: “Another Major Victory for Religious Freedom in America

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