Are You Kelvin Cochran?

by Ron F. Hale

After the horrific bloodbath by Islamic terrorists in Paris, the French people are asking, “Are we Charlie Hebdo?” or “Are you Charlie?” Every sane and God-fearing American should agonize with our friends and allies over these senseless murders. These events should slap us in the face with the cold reality that a growing group of radicals is seeking to be the “thought police” of the world and the cold-blooded enforcers of their extreme ideology.  Without claiming any moral equivalence to the happenings in France, I want to bring the idea of “thought police” home to America.

If you haven’t heard his name, Kelvin Cochran represents an important struggle in America. The new American “thought police” are seeking to enforce a new definition of tolerance as America seeks to find a balance between the emerging secular prophets of political correctness and the traditional religious beliefs that have shaped American families from the days of Plymouth Rock to the vast fly-over areas of the American heartland in 2015.

At the heart of the matter is the firing of Kelvin Cochran, the former Atlanta Fire Chief by Kasim Reed, the 59th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. Why was Kelvin Cochran fired? What motivated Mayor Reed to fire Chief Cochran? Why will issues like this be in the news for a long time?  Chief Kelvin Cochran has a stellar service record. He served the Shreveport, Louisiana Fire Department for 27 years; he served the Obama administration as a top fire administrator in 2009, and returned to Atlanta as the Fire Chief in 2010. He has served as president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and holds a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  In his private life, Mr. Cochran is a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and Men’s Bible study leader at Atlanta’s Elizabeth Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation. He wrote a self-published 160-page book entitled Who Told You that You Were Naked? to help Christian men overcome the ghosts of guilt and feelings of condemnation over past sins.

Within his book, Cochran takes a classical Christian approach in discussing sexual sins outside the bonds of holy matrimony. On less than half a page, Cochran mentions forms of sexual perversion that include a mention of uncleanness as the “opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, etc.  Chief Cochran has not been charged with showing any disrespect or discrimination toward any person, much less a homosexual or lesbian employee in his workforce. Yet, the new American “thought police” dismisses his historic religious beliefs as dangerous to the 21st century world.

Therefore, it is not his “actions” the Mayor and others are using as fodder for the firing, but Chief Cochran’s religious “beliefs.” Please understand this frightening new secular code of censorship. An American can now be fired for the beliefs that he or she holds in head and heart—not acts of discrimination or misconduct actually carried out by the individual.  If left unchallenged, Bible-believing Christians will no longer be eligible for employment, especially, by local, state, and federal governments. Why? Because of their beliefs – and imaginative actions somehow discerned by our new American “thought police.”

A case in point is the New York Times article on January 6, as Richard Fausset says “He (Cochran) is also a member of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which holds homosexuality to be sinful. Mr. Cochran’s book, ‘Who Told You That You Were Naked?’ counts homosexual acts among a number of ‘vile, vulgar and inappropriate’ activities that serve to ‘dishonor God,’ according to excerpts obtained by the local gay news media and activists.” Fausset seeks to stereotype all Southern Baptists while castigating Cochran for seeing homosexuality as a chosen sinful lifestyle rather than a “sexual orientation.” What Fausset fails to understand is the historic struggle that Baptists have made in America–so that “all” Americans can equally enjoy our “religious liberties” and freedoms.

Today in America, no citizen can be forced to attend a state-run church, or pay tithes or taxes to a state sponsored religion, or be flogged on the public square for bad-mouthing the local pastor or bishop. Secular Americans do not have to be forced to have their infants baptized. Why? Because many early Baptists suffered imprisonment, beatings, and banishment for standing for the principle of true religious liberty. This included the personal freedom to “not believe” in God or to show any act of public worship.

Chief Cochran has been fired because his traditional beliefs collide with a progressive minority whose brand of political correctness seeks to silence any outspoken Christian. They regard Christian teachings on sexual morality as “hate speech.” We are to shut up, pay our taxes, and accept that our faith will be privatized and marginalized before our eyes.

Chief Cochran’s struggle is my struggle! I am Kelvin Cochran. Are you Kelvin Cochran?