One of the main efforts of our Lutheran Center For Religious Liberty’s work in Washington D.C. is to partner with various, like-minded organizations to roll back the weaponization of politics today, especially as it concerns valid differences of opinion as to how we are to live our lives faithfully and morally. There are legitimate differences of opinion in our culture today as to what healthy relationships are, what healthy sexuality entails, and the definition and purpose of marriage as a relationship and as an institution within a healthy society. Sadly, it’s not merely that such disagreements are more prevalent. Today disagreements are increasingly not allowed and the strong-arm of the State is being used to silence those who disagree with the prevailing accepted notions in popular culture. Bakers are losing their businesses, educational institutions are being threatened, and hard-working, honorable people are losing their jobs as well. A case in point is Georgia’s persecution of a faithful Fire Chief named Kelvin Cochran (For a more detailed account, see https://www.theglobaldispatch.com/city-of-atlanta-to-pay-kelvin-cochran-for-unconstitutional-firing-67553/).
Cochran was a dedicated and decorated city employee who suddenly came under fire because of a devotional book that he had written on his free-time, and not at work. It briefly described his Christian views on sex and marriage—views that are very traditional and mainstream. He was immediately suspended for 30 days, directed to attend “sensitivity training,” and then summarily fired even though a thorough investigation showed that Cochran was a very good leader and had never discriminated against anyone. His crime? He had a different view of the purpose of sex and the institution marriage and family as compared to the libertine views of the “thought police” in our society today. For that he was to be punished and quite severely.
Our plea? Stop litigating cultural, moral differences, please! Think for a moment about the widespread destruction of marriage today and the ensuing chaos in our neighborhoods with the STD’s, the broken relationships, and the growing callousness between men and women emanating from the sexual revolution (devolution?) of the 1960s. In light of all of that one would think that Cochran’s call to men to return to chastity, committed love, and family would be welcomed as the benevolent solution that it is. Instead, we are criminalizing viewpoints that once were rightly considered mainstream and just.
The LCRL’s position on many of these cultural issues is to protect them as issues involving freedom of speech and freedom of religion, defending our dissenting voice in a culture that should value such a dialogue. Such issues should be engaged via dialogues of persuasion and not by the politics of coercion. Thankfully, the courts sided with Cochran and ruled that the city of Atlanta had indeed violated the chief’s first amendment rights. The courts determined that Atlanta’s rules restricting non-work speech, like the book for Christian men that Cochran wrote, were too broad and allowed city officials to unconstitutionally discriminate against views with which they disagree. But it should give us pause that such rules are being written in cities around the country. As a result, merely holding a biblical view of marriage and family is now considered a legitimate cause for one’s termination, no matter how well a person does his or her job. The work of protecting a Christian’s and the Church’s right to have a public voice in our culture prayerfully goes on.