ATLANTA — The Atlanta fire chief who was fired earlier this month over a book that he published containing brief remarks decrying homosexual behavior and other forms of sexual perversion has filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
As previously reported, Chief Kelvin Cochran was suspended for one month beginning in late November and was placed under investigation as to whether he violated city policy or engaged in discrimination by publishing the book “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, which was compiled as a result of a number of lesson plans that he had prepared over time for men’s Bible study groups.
The book, available on Amazon, is centered on God’s question to Adam following his disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and parallels the matter with those who are now “clothed in Christ.”
While “Who Told You That You Were Naked” was published in 2013, it was reportedly not until last November that Atlanta employees complained to Mayor Kasim Reed about its content.
“Uncleanness [is] whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion,” Cochran wrote. “Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God.”
But it wasn’t Cochran’s writings against sexual perversion that got him into hot water; it was the fact that he included homosexuality among those behaviors that are cited as being “vile,” “vulgar” and “inappropriate.” The text was included on just one page out of the entire 160-plus page book, which does not center on homosexuality.
Following the receipt of a complaint over the quote, Mayor Kasim Reed placed Cochran on a one-month suspension while an investigation went forward. Shortly after he returned to work, Reed decided to terminate the fire chief over the publication. He alleged at a press conference shortly after the beginning of the new year that his decision had nothing to do with freedom or speech or religion, stating that Cochran was fired because he had not obtained approval from officials to publish the book. Reed also stated that he thought the chief could present legal liabilities for the city.
But Cochran said the he indeed did seek out the ethics officer prior to publishing the book, and not only was he granted permission to proceed, but he was also allowed to include in his biography that he served as the fire chief of Atlanta. He said that he gave a copy of the publication to Reed in January 2014—nearly a year before the controversy erupted—and was told by the mayor that he would read it.
On Wednesday, Cochran filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, alleging a violation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act.
“The book expresses my deeply held religious convictions on many subjects,” the complaint reads. “I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my religion—Christian.”
“Upon return from my suspension, I was informed … that the investigation revealed zero instances of discrimination by me against any other employee of the city,” it outlines. “[My firing instead] arose due to the content of my book and the fact that I attempted to conduct myself in accordance with my religious convictions at all times, even when I’m at work.”
Cochran also says that he was “informed that since my faith influenced my leadership style, as well as other issues concerning my book, I was given a choice to resign or be terminated.”
The city refutes the complaint and states that the allegations are false.
“What he was actually told was that his distribution of a book about his beliefs within his department had caused his employees to question his ability to continue to lead a diverse workforce,” Jenna Garland, spokeswoman for Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, told the Washington Post on Friday.
Cochran serves as a deacon at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta.