I’m no fan of religion – any religion -- because, in my opinion, it causes far more bad consequences to human civilization, well being and liberty than good. The time will eventually come (unfortunately not in my lifetime) when all religions will be reasoned out of existence in conscious minds -- that is only if the irrationality of it all doesn’t result first in the complete destruction and extinction of the human species.
That said, I’m a huge fan of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and especially the First Amendment. It is the foundation for liberty in America. Without freedom of conscience there is no liberty.
The First Amendment recognizes my right to disbelieve in all religions, and express my non-belief as I am doing here, just as it recognizes the rights of others to freely exercise and express their religious beliefs. That is the essence of religious liberty for believers and non-believers alike. These rights “shall not be abridged.”
This is why I am troubled by the news that the city of Atlanta Georgia has terminated the employment of its fire chief solely because of his religious beliefs.
Atlanta fire chief, Kelvin Cochran was suspended for 30 days last November and subsequently fired by the city solely because of a Christian devotional book he authored that included a section on his beliefs regarding biblical sexual morality. Cochran expressed his religious beliefs against same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct.
“I respect each individual’s rights to have their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, but when you’re a city employee and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door,” declared city Councilman Alex Wan.
The Councilman contradicted himself in the same sentence. Obviously he does not respect Cochran’s First Amendment rights if he thinks he can get away with firing him for merely exercising those rights by authoring opinions which differ from his own.
“Every American should be concerned about a government that thinks it can fire you because of what you believe,” explained Cochran’s Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, who filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination in federal court.
Now, while I certainly don’t agree with any of Cochran’s religious beliefs, his First Amendment rights were plainly violated by the city of Atlanta, and therefore I have no doubt that he should and will prevail in his meritorious legal action.
The city cannot terminate the employment of someone for merely writing a book containing an expression of controversial religious beliefs. Had Cochran exercised those same beliefs to discriminate against a gay employee of his department that would be a different situation all together, but all he did here was to write a book expressing his beliefs.
His termination was unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment... the foundation of liberty.