Ex-Atlanta fire chief: God prepared me for this storm

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who has emerged as a symbol to religious supporters convinced his beliefs got him fired, said his recent travails are “God-inflicted.”

“I’ve come to realize that God has been preparing me for this storm my entire life,” he said Sunday morning at Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he’s a deacon. “He’s not done with me yet.”

Cochran delivered a similar message to Augusta churchgoers, telling them he is being used to demonstrate the consequences of standing up for Biblical principles.

“I am not going through this because of something I have done,” said Cochran, quoted by The Augusta Chronicle during an appearance at Abliene Baptist Church. “I am going through this because of something that (God) is doing in the body of Christ and in my life.”

Cochran was suspended in late November after Mayor Kasim Reed learned of the chief’s self-published book, which condemns homosexual acts as “unclean” and comparable to bestiality.

He was fired Jan. 6 after an investigation found the book’s publication violated the city’s Standards of Conduct, which required prior approval from the Board of Ethics, according to the mayor.

In a letter sent to supporters last week, Reed disputed Cochran’s contention that he was fired because of his religious beliefs.

“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.”

But Cochran maintains his dismissal was all about religion. And he’s cultivated a strong base of support from Christian conservatives who have used his situation to push House Bill 29. Supporters say the bill is designed to protect religious expression from government intrusion.

Describing the genesis of his 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,” he told the congregation at Elizabeth. “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.”

Relaying that message, Cochran said, is what got him in trouble.

“The truth will set you free, but I’ve also found out the truth will make a lot of people angry,” he said. “And there are worldly consequences for standing up in righteousness in these times.”

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