kelvin cochranThe cacophony of the modern public square often includes voices that employ rights rhetoric aimed at promoting licentious views, especially in regard to human sexuality. Those who dare to disagree with these advocates by promoting virtue instead of vice will likely have their livelihoods ruined, and consequently what little remains in America of the innocence, decency and common sense required to build civilization will continue to erode.

In Atlanta, Georgia, meet Kelvin Cochran, the fire chief who was recently fired because he wrote and self-published a book in 2013 that such groups as the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgenders (LGBTs) and Georgia Equality construed as critical of “gays.”  After an outcry from the “gay” community, Atlanta Mayor Kaseem Reed suspended Kelvin Cochran without pay for thirty days while the Reed administration investigated the circumstances surrounding what amounted to less than half a page in a 160-page book, expressing a Biblical objection to all sexual acts outside of the bonds of traditional marriage. One of the lines the LGBT community found offensive is Chief Cochran’s statement describing uncleanness as “whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.” Mayor Reed commented publicly: “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community, I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.” (How about discrimination against those who express a Biblical view, Mayor?) Mayor Reed went on to explain that Chief Cochran was suspended and ordered to take “sensitivity training classes.”

After the investigation and thirty-day suspension, on January 6, 2015, Mr. Cochran was fired from his job as fire chief. Mayor Reed claimed that Chief Cochran was not fired for his Christian views, but because he disobeyed the rules, including not getting permission to write the book in the first place, and for speaking out during the city’s investigation of the LGBT’s complaints. Mayor Reed said “his religious beliefs are not the basis of the problem, his judgment is the basis of the problem.”

The problem as described by Georgia Equality Executive director Jeff Graham is that “this is not about his religious view but about his ability to lead a diverse work force. It is unfortunate that this had to happen. I feel the mayor has done the right thing to ensure all employees are treated fairly.” Despite the obvious contradiction, it is clear that Jeff Graham’s foundational premise is that someone such as Kelvin Cochran, who has a religious belief about sexual morality, will be unable to be fair in the work place by virtue of that religious belief.

The truth is that this is about Fire Chief Cochran’s religious views. His public statements about sex acts outside of marriage being disordered are the reason he was fired. But the truth is that a virtuous Christian, who holds a proper understanding of rightly-ordered human sexuality, is much more likely to be fair and even charitable to all employees than any self-professed champion of licentious tolerance. The evidence is in this story.

In a ridiculously unfair claim, Mr. Graham said: “Frankly the only course of action at this point and time is his immediate and permanent dismissal.” Does it really follow that a good man who expresses a belief in virtuous and properly-ordered sexuality deserves to lose his livelihood? Is that fair? For whom would you rather work: a good and virtuous man like Chief Cochran, or a guy like Jeff Graham who would fire you for holding and expressing virtuous beliefs?

I am no stranger to the viciousness of the licentious sexual liberationists and their idea of fairness. A little over a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote my first essay for public consumption; it concerned a situation in my public school the year before I left. I was asked about “gay marriage” by a student and gave a charitable, well-rounded, and virtuous response to it. The following week there was a gaggle of parents complaining. I was called in and accused of many things–all of them factually true–and then told that if I brought this issue up again, I would be fired. I got a disciplinary write-up, my first in twenty-two years of teaching. These vicious people wanted me to lose my job because I answered a question from a student in a virtuous way. Even if what I said was objectively offensive–which it was not–is it fair to ruin my teaching career as a result?

Most of these vicious assaults go unreported and uncontested, but this is not the case in Atlanta concerning Fire Chief Cochran. There has been a response from the community in Atlanta, sponsored by Concerned Women for America (CWA), who organized a rally on the January 14, 2015, at City Hall. It is a good gesture: a support of virtue being viciously attacked by an intolerant orthodoxy ideology that is tearing this country apart. It seems that there is a vicious minority and a cowardly majority who would see freedom taken away from well-ordered souls. On our side we do not begrudge the sexually licentious from making their case privately or publicly, yet they begrudge us making ours even in private. We have a properly ordered love for them in that we recognize that their sexual licentiousness hurts them and those around them; they would like to harm us simply because we disagree with them. We wish the good for them; they truly wish harm on us. Many people who do not even know Kelvin Cochran wish for him to suffer the death of his career simply because he expressed a Biblical view of virtue. There is something terribly wrong with this.

The devastating truth in America is that public and private morals are descending at such a rate that recovery seems unlikely. Sexual morality certainly ought to be a topic of public debate. It would be a healthy sign to see opinions openly and honestly debated in the public square. Unfortunately, this is not allowed because of  the unfairness of those clamoring for fairness. It is a terrible time for America when the public expression of virtue carries with it the penalty of harm, up to and including a loss of livelihood. It is even worse that public statements of intolerant licentiousness carry with them the reward of approbation and sympathy.

I suspect that a reasonable dialogue with the propagators of sexual license is impossible—but I would still like to hold out hope that the freedom to express virtue is still honored in some small corners of America. I would invite dialogue with the sincere hope that we could find common ground in the truth of our shared, intrinsic, human dignity, but I am afraid that the consequences of initiating such a conversation in good faith would be devastating as they have been for Fire Chief Cochran. Nonetheless, we cannot sit idly by while good men are publicly ruined for expressing the kind of virtues required for the good society. I for one stand against this new precedent of ruining people’s livelihoods because they express their Christian morality; it is a sign of barbarity and holds no semblance to the intentions of our Founding Fathers.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility.

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