Fired Atlanta fire chief to give testimony at Abilene Baptist
Dr. Brad Whitt, of Abilene Baptist Church, was blown away when he heard the former Atlanta fire chief’s story at an executive committee meeting for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Cochran told of growing up in abject poverty and of watching his neighbor’s house burn to the ground. The latter influenced Cochran’s decision to become a firefighter, Whitt said.
Those are the stories Whitt expects Cochran to share when he speaks at Abilene on Sunday night.
Cochran became Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008, and in 2009, he was appointed U.S. fire administrator by President Obama.
At the time of the Convention meeting, Cochran had been suspended as Atlanta’s fire chief for distributing to employees a book he had written and self-published called Who Told You That You Were Naked?
Some claim that statements made in the book are anti-gay and discriminatory.
At the Convention meeting, Cochran spoke little of the controversy surrounding him, Whitt said.
The Martinez pastor was so impressed with Cochran’s personal testimony that he invited him to share it with the congregation at Abilene.
That was before Cochran was fired, before the fire storm that stirred up debate about religious freedom.
“One thing you’ll find with me, I’m not a political guy,” Whitt said. “I don’t want politics. We don’t preach politics from the pulpit. This guy is coming to share his story because his story is something I think our (community) needs to hear.”
Whitt said that when he invited Cochran to speak, he believed Cochran would be reinstated. Whitt wanted Cochran to share stories such as how he met his wife, his life in the church and his relationship with Christ.
And that is what he expects Cochran to talk about Sunday.
“In his talk to the Georgia Baptist Convention, he was very careful, very respectful, very tight-lipped about anything going on in Atlanta,” Whitt said. “What he told us was his story.”
Whitt said it is his personal belief that Cochran will be a force to be reckoned with if he ever chooses to run for a higher office, and that in firing Cochran, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed might have damaged his own career as a result of his “extreme bias.”
“Southern Baptists are a large population here in Georgia,” he said. “I think (the debate) is going to be a force behind the new (religious freedom) legislation coming through the state House.”