Ousted Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Likens Termination Ordeal to That of Job, Jesus; 'God Will Vindicate Me'

(Photo: Courtesy of Abilene Baptist Church)Ousted Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran speaks at Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia, on January 18, 2015.

Kelvin Cochran, the Atlanta Fire Chief who was fired last month for sharing his Christian beliefs in a self-published book and then giving copies to employees, said during a recent sermon that he believes God will vindicate him.

"I found out there are worldly consequences for standing for righteousness, but what God is about to show everybody is that there are also kingdom consequences for standing for righteousness," Cochran reportedly told congregants at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia, on Jan. 25. "And he's going to vindicate me in such a way that everybody will see it and everybody will know that it's nobody but the most high God who is vindicating me."

The married father of three likened his ordeal, which he described as "God-induced suffering," to that of biblical figures such as Job and Jesus Christ.

"God reminded me that I'm in pretty good company when it comes to God-induced sufferings," he said during the service. "He reminded me, brothers and sisters, that Job was just minding his own business, being a faithful husband, taking good care of his children, minding his flocks in his fields and God volunteered him for an unimaginable God-induced suffering. But after he endured the suffering, God blessed him with twice as much as all that he had prior to the suffering."

The sermon came just days after attorneys for the seven-year veteran fire chief filed a complaint on his behalf with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, claiming the city of Atlanta discriminated against him on religious grounds.

In November, city officials said Cochran had violated policy by self-publishing his book and then handing it out to employees. Subsequently, he was suspended without pay and forced to undergo sensitivity training.

The book was brought to their attention last year when an AFRD member complained about Cochran distributing copies in the workplace.

On Jan. 6, Cochran was supposed to return to work, but instead he was abruptly fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed over the incident. The termination sparked widespread outrage, ignited protests and also drew a firestorm of criticism from prominent Christian leaders including evangelist Franklin Graham, who said Cochran's First Amendment rights were violated.

A city spokeswoman said it will defend Reed's decision to terminate Cochran "whether through the EEOC administrative process or in any other appropriate forum," according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

(Photo: Reuters/Tami Chappell)Mayoral candidate Kasim Reed smiles at his supporters after declaring victory in Atlanta, Georgia, December 1, 2009.His opponent, Mary Norwood, refused to concede her run-off election with Reed who was ahead by less than a thousand votes, local media reported.

The EEOC oversees workplace discrimination and enforces laws which make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on factors such as race and religion. They will investigate Cochran's complaint and determine whether or not to bring forward a lawsuit on his behalf.

In his 2013 book, Who Told You That You Are Naked?, Cochran calls homosexuality "sexual perversion" and "vulgar" and also likens it to "bestiality" among other things.

A city investigation determined Cochran had not discriminated against LGBT employees but he was fired anyway.

Reed has said previously in multiple statements that Cochran was not fired for his religious beliefs but rather "because he displayed bad judgment."

"The more people see of this case, the more they're going to agree I made the right decision," Reed said at the Atlanta Press Club recently.

The city's ethics code requires that a commissioner get approval from the board of ethics prior to engaging in private activity for pay.

"I had legal permission to write the book from the city's ethics officer [Nina Hickson]," Cochran recently told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview. "[It] was through a verbal conversation, there was no documentation … she said it was legal and I was authorized to write it and that she wanted a copy when I finish, after I told her what the book was going to be about."

In a statement to CP, Hickson refuted these claims and cited the Atlanta City Code of Ordinances, Section 2-820 (d).

"The Atlanta's Ethics Code establishes the required approval process for City Commissioners who wish to engage in outside activities for pay," Hickson wrote in an email. "Consequently, I did not authorize Chief Cochran to write and publish the book, nor did I have the authority to do so."

Numerous petitions calling for Cochran's reinstatement as fire chief have reportedly since collectively garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

In 2009, Obama appointed Cochran as the fire administrator for the U.S. Fire Administration. He returned to his job as Atlanta's fire chief the following year.