A hero in evangelical circles who took on the city of Atlanta in a high-profile religious freedom case and won has accepted a top position at Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal rights group that represented him.
Kelvin Cochran, the former Atlanta fire chief who was terminated after writing a Christian book for a men’s Bible study, will be a senior fellow and vice president for the organization that handles religious discrimination cases all across the U.S.
Cochran, who also served as U.S. Fire Administrator during the Obama administration, has been involved with ADF not just as a client but more recently as a member of the governing board.
“I just call this a God-sized story,” said Cochran, who will be relocating to Virginia. “To go from a client to a board member and now a senior fellow and vice president — only God can come up with a story like that.”
Atlanta agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million in 2018 to settle the lawsuit he brought against the city.
Attorneys for the city had recommended settling the lawsuit to avoid the potential for a multimillion-dollar verdict.
Cochran was fired after writing the 162-page book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” The book was intended to help Christian men overcome feelings of guilt and condemnation because of things they had done in the past.
One of Cochran’s subordinates in the Atlanta Fire Department, an assistant chief, complained about a half-page explanation of the biblical view of homosexuality.
Cochran’s lawyers said in court filings he had written the book as a private individual on his own time for the benefit of a men’s Bible study group at Atlanta’s 19,000-member Elizabeth Baptist Church.
Alliance Defending Freedom expressed hope at the time that Cochran’s case would “serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants.”
In his new role at ADF, Cochran will have internal and external roles.
Internally, he will work to develop programs for professional development and career planning.
Externally, he will work to build a stronger alliance of churches and ministry leaders and to develop a prayer network of 5 to 10 million Christians.
The job will be based in Lansdowne, Virginia.
“I’m going to still have roots in Atlanta, and I will still be spending time in Atlanta,” Cochran said. “But I know this is a divine assignment from God. My wife is on board with it, and that makes it an easy move.”
Dave Cortman, senior counsel for ADF, said the organization is thrilled to have Cochran on staff, citing his character, his integrity and his leadership.
“The chief has been a great example to all of us about how to handle yourself and to rely on God when you’re put on trial for your faith,” Cortman said. “He came out of that as a strong witness.”
By Roger Alford
The Christian Index