UPDATE: 8 p.m. Jan. 13, 2015
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday the American Family Association's petition calling on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to reinstate Kelvin Cochran as the city's fire chief has garnered over 42,000 signatures, while the Family Research Council's petition has garnered more than 32,000 signatures.
Various Christian and social conservative activist groups have launched petition campaigns requesting that the mayor of Atlanta reinstate the city's former fire chief, who was fired last week after the city investigated a book he wrote that included short passages affirming his Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong.
Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, The American Family Association, Life Site News, and Faith Driven Consumer have all launched online petitions that've received thousands of signatures, thus far, in support of the canned fire chief, Kelvin Cochran.
After Cochran released his religious book, Who Told You You Are Naked? for a Bible study at his church, which gay activists claim is intolerant, he was suspended without pay in November by the city's mayor, Kasim Reed, for one month. Upon returning to work last week, the mayor informed Cochran that he was fired.
According to media reports, there are two passages in Cochran's 160-page book that were found to be critical of homosexuality, and deemed by some on the city council as conflicting with the views of the city.
One passage in Cochran's book reads: "Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion."
Another passage states: "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."
After firing Cochran, Reed stated that his decision was not based on "personal religious beliefs" but rather on an evaluation of "judgement and management skills."
An internal report conducted by the mayor's office found that there was no evidence that Cochran treated lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender firefighters unfairly.
"There is not any person of any people group that has interacted with me for any measure of time that can say I have hate or disregard or discrimination in my heart for any people group," Cochran told Fox News' Todd Starnes.
Speaking in favor of the mayor's move, councilman Alex Wan said that "when you're a city employee, and [your] thoughts, beliefs are different from the city's, you have to check them at the door."
FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement that no one should have to forfeit their religious freedom because of their position in society. Thus far, the FRC petition has received the most signatures having garnered over 26,400, as of Monday morning.
"One page in the 160-page book discussed sexual immorality, including homosexualtiy, which the mayor called discriminatory," Perkins explained. "This idea that you have to surrender your First Amendment rights and check your faith at the door of public service is wrong, and we cannot let it stand. … Let's put on notice the Atlanta mayor, and others like him who would extinguish religious expression from the public square. This kind of government intimidation has no place in a free society."
Faith Driven Consumer, an advocacy group representing the Christian consumer interest, launched their #ExtinguishIntolerance petition calling the mayor to not only reinstate the fire chief but apologize to him too. The petition has gained over 9,000 signatures.
"People of faith in Atlanta have been sent a clear message — unless you agree with the mayor and his point of view, you could be subject to persecution," Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone said in a statement. "Concerned citizens [are] aware of similar actions taking place in other parts of the world where human rights are not respected, but are stunned to learn this is happening not only in America, but also in the very city that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born and raised."
The National Organization for Marriage campaign has received over 5,300 signatures. NOM President, Brian Brown, said that Cochran's views have no bearing on how he conducts his job as fire chief and blames the liberal agenda for trying to silence anyone who doesn't agree the point of view.
"But of course, the radical gay agenda isn't interested in the First Amendment, or in the values of tolerance and respect for a diversity of opinions," Brown said. "They simply want to silence any opposition and turn traditional values about marriage and family into the social and legal equivalent of hate speech and bigotry."