Former Atlanta Fire Chief, Fired for Christian Beliefs, to Get $1.2 Million
| ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor
| Tuesday, October 16, 2018
The city of Atlanta agreed Monday to pay former fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million, four years after he was suspended and then fired for publishing a book containing historic Christian beliefs.
Cochran’s self-published 162-page book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?: Overcoming the Stronghold of Condemnation,” included Bible verses addresses sexuality and homosexuality. It was the latter topic that sparked a controversy and an investigation and eventually, his termination. He wrote the book on non-work time.
A federal court ruling in December 2017 ruled against a city policy that required employees to get permission from the government before writing books or giving speeches. The judge said the policy was too broad and “stifled speech.”
On Monday, the city council agreed to pay Cochran $1.2 million.
“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods,” said ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court. “We are very pleased that the city is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants.”
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled in December that the policy “does not pass constitutional muster.”
“This policy would prevent an employee from writing and selling a book on golf or badminton on his own time and, without prior approval, would subject him to firing,” May wrote. “It is unclear to the Court how such an outside employment would ever affect the City’s ability to function, and the City provides no evidence to justify it…. The potential for stifled speech far outweighs any unsupported assertion of harm.”
To our American readers: never forget what a valuable thing our First Amendment is.
We must also be wary never to let this happen here.
A passionate evangelist in Canada is facing up to two years in prison for passing out pamphlets warning of the dangers of homosexual sex and telling the good news of Christ’s salvation at a gay pride event in Calgary.
According to Toronto police, Bill Whatcott, a Toronto bus driver by day, “distributed anti-gay material which promoted hatred toward the gay community,” Toronto Police Service said in a statement, which explained he was arrested in Calgary and returned to Toronto.
Whatcott, 51, was charged with “willful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, namely the gay community.”
The pamphlets he allegedly distributed said homosexuality is associated with sexually transmitted diseases, including HPV of the rectum, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says is true, according to The Federalist.
The pamphlets, which reportedly included negative remarks against the Liberal Party and left-wing politicians, also said that supporting homosexual acts without repentance could lead to “eternal peril,” and repentance to “the free gift of eternal life.”
However, reports say that the pamphlets neither encouraged hate against homosexuals, nor advocated violence.
Whatcott, who has been fired from his job, said he wasn’t given food for 24 hours while in jail, according to The Daily Wire.
“It might have been on purpose, because it didn’t happen, like — some inmates did go half a day without food — but they actually made me go a full 24 hours,” he was quoted as saying.
He said he was also denied medical attention for a leg injury. “I had a leg infection, and it was bad enough that I was brought to the hospital, but they simply refused to fill the prescriptions. So for four days I had no medications. The infection was actually going up my leg. I was a little concerned it was gonna go systemic.”
Please pray for our brother as he faces sentencing for the crime of warning people about their sin and sharing the love and redeeming power of our Savior!
About twenty years ago, I produced a story for D. James Kennedy Ministries on the subject of a school prayer case in Santa Fe, Texas.
the founders recognized that the only way our Constitution would work is if the people themselves were virtuous. They said that the way they would be virtuous was through religion practiced on a voluntary basis.
we’ve removed God from the public schools and in His place we’ve had to install the metal detector.
The hostility against religion in general, but Christianity in particular, can get downright vicious. In Santa Fe, the ACLU filed suit to halt prayers at a baccalaureate service, privately sponsored by a group of ministers in 1995. The federal judge, Samuel Kent, said that the ministers could still hold the voluntary service, but that no one could pray in the name of any specific deity, such as the name of Jesus.
Kent declared, “Anybody who violates these orders, no kidding, is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.”
(Judge Kent himself later wound up in prison after being convicted of obstruction of justice in a sexual harassment case against him.)
So, not only was there to be no voluntary religious expression of ideas in the Santa Fe public schools, but anyone who dared to introduce godly influence would be summarily punished. There was also the issue of prayers at the football games in that school district—a case that went all the way up to the Supreme Court with a decision against the prayer.
So, based on false premises, the ACLU and the liberal judges that support their misreading of American history have turned many of our public schools into godless wastelands. Are we now seeing the consequences of their work unfolding before us?
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Red Tape – ‘First Amendment rights can be terminated’: When cops, cameras don’t mix
The video is chilling, but it’s also a sign of the times.
“Your First Amendment rights can be terminated,” yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital. One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place. He was released only minutes later, but the damage was done. Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing “caught on tape” moment, and civil rights experts who say cops are unfairly cracking down on citizens with cameras had their iconic moment.
Tales of reporters, protestors and citizen journalists being threatened or arrested for filming law enforcement officials during disputes are on the rise, critics say, with Occupy Wall Street protests a lightning rod for these incidents. The National Press Photographers Association claims it has documented 70 such arrests since September and, in May, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to focus attention on the issue.
“The First Amendment has come under assault on the streets of America,” the photography association said in a letter to Holder that was also signed by several other interest groups. “Police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists simply for attempting to document political protests in public spaces.”
Such allegations are ironic, given the sharp rise in police surveillance technology, which gives cops vast capabilities to film citizens, said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.
“It is true that Americans are photographed more and more today as they walk around in public spaces,” Crump said. “And it is ironic that law enforcement agencies are objecting when the same activity is being used to film their activities. But it’s not surprising because there’s often a double-standard in this space.”
There’s always been a tense relationship between cops and cameras, but that relationship is being pushed to the brink now that half of U.S. adults carry smartphones, nearly all of them capable of filming and sharing visuals instantly with the whole world via the Internet. Cops at Occupy Wall Street protests — such as those at Zucotti Park in New York City — routinely deal with dozens of amateur photographers shoving cameras in their faces, many of them aggressive. It’s not hard to see how the cameras can escalate an already tense situation.
But First Amendment law is clear: Citizens in public spaces have a right to film things they see in plain sight. Courts have repeatedly upheld that right in high-profile cases.
Court rulings sometimes have no bearing during intense situations, however.
“It wouldn’t really matter with some police officers if you had an original copy of Bill of Rights with you,” said Mickey Osterreicher, a lawyer for the press photographers association. He said he deals with new cases nearly every day involving photographers who he believes have been wrongly arrested.
“The sign on my desk that reads, ‘Bang head here,’ is getting worn out,” he said.
In April, Connecticut’s State Senate passed a law that clearly defined citizens’ right to film, but the state’s lower house failed to act on the measure. The proposal was introduced by Sen. Majority Leader Martin M. Looney , D-New Haven, after a series of incidents involving cops in that state’s capital city. In one, a police officer is caught on camera saying “You don’t take pictures of us,” before making an arrest. In another incident, 26-year-old Luis Luna was arrested for filming an arrest, and video files on his iPhone were deleted.
“In the past several years, police officers have wrongly arrested members of public for using video cameras or cell phone cameras,” said Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Looney. “In the opinion of a number of senators, there were far too many instances, and that demonstrated the right to videotape needed to be codified and is unfortunately necessary.”
The proliferation of devices that can film and share has made this conflict almost inevitable, but there are other causes, too.
“So many mainstream journalists have been laid off and are freelancing,” said Osterreicher, the press association lawyer. ”Then you have people who consider themselves citizen journalists. They have ‘pro-sumer’ devices capable of taking video and still images with the same quality as pro equipment, and can share them with the world, without mainstream media. That’s something we’ve never seen, until recently.”
As a result, civil liberties lawyers have beaten a path to courthouses around the country, said Crump.
“We do hear about these more frequently now because everyone walks around with cell phone cameras,” she said. “Law enforcement officers sometimes react badly to this, and view it as a threatening act.”
The most celebrated case involves Simon Glik, who in 2007 filmed police arresting a homeless man near Boston Commons. Glick was arrested and charged with violating the state’s wiretapping law. His case was dismissed, but he then brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. In August 2011, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously in his favor.
“That decision is 24 pages of pure gold,” Osterreicher said. “The judges talked about the right to record in public. They said the First Amendment right is self-evident. They took judicial notice of the fact that news is as likely to come from someone with a cellphone as anyone. And they talked about the fact that police officers … should expect to be recorded when out in public.”
In March of this year, Boston paid Glik $170,000 to settle the suit.
“It’s really not up to police officers to decide what is and isn’t newsworthy,” Osterreicher said. “It’s a shame Boston had to learn an expensive lesson.”
Other rulings have offered a similarly strong endorsement of the right to film, Crump said.
“The First Amendment is strongly protective of right to video and record in public spaces. There’s obviously a good reason for that. Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” she said. She said court rulings have been so consistent, she’s not worried about any weakening of the First Amendment – but she is worried about the more practical side of the problem. Glik’s settlement — most of which paid for his legal fees — took five years to arrive. In most real-life situations, police officers have wide discretion, and few observers have the time, money or wherewithal to see a First Amendment case through to completion.
Osterreicher, both a former journalist and a reserve police officer, prefers far more practical methods. He travels the country training police officers in First Amendment law. Invited by Chicago police brass, he offered such training in advance of recent NATO meetings in Chicago, which attracted sizable protests. He thinks it worked: To his knowledge, only one photographer was arrested during those protests.
He also offers suggestions tips to would-be cop videographers.
“The First Amendment is not absolute,” he said. “It is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. But the key word is ‘reasonable.’ Is it reasonable when covering a protest to ask someone to stand back or get on a sidewalk? Absolutely. Is it reasonable to expect the press to go away when there is an order to disperse? No.”
One rule that is fairly absolute, he said: While there are situations when police can seize cameras and cellphones, they have no right to destroy data, such as pictures or videos, without consent from the owner. In fact, doing so could be considered destruction of evidence.
The ACLU hosts an information page designed to help amateur photographers understand their rights on its website. But Crump offered a thumbnail sketch of the law that draws an important distinction between public and private property.
“Generally, when you are in a public space where you have the right to be, you have right to photograph anything in plain view, and that includes police who are executing their duties,” she said. “But if you are on private property, the property owner gets to set the rules.”
But Osterreicher said any advice photographers receive should come with a warning: “It’s complicated.”
“I can’t give you an answer that covers all situations. You’re going to have to make an assessment,” he said “Is this officer nonchalantly asking you to move? Or is he getting real cranky? A lot of situations can be diffused with conversation. … You want it to end well.”
From Mozilla, a non-profit organization and developer of Firefox
Today, Mozilla is joining the virtual strike against Internet censorship – along with others like Wikipedia and Google – to raise awareness of US Congress legislation that could fundamentally alter the Internet we know and love.
This harmful legislation, called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate, will be voted on as early as January 24th in the Senate.
If you live in the US, there’s still time to help stop these bills from becoming law. Please visit mozilla.org/sopa for information on the bill, and on ways you can reach out to your senators.
What makes this legislation so bad? Here’s how it would change the Web:
Communication platforms – from YouTube to Facebook to Amazon – could be shut down if a single rights holder alleges a violation.
It would make the Web less stable and less secure.
Social networking sites, like Twitter or Facebook, could be forced to track and control user behavior, stunting innovation and undermining free expression.
Your Internet provider could be required to inspect all of your traffic and browsing.
Visit mozilla.org/sopa right now for information – and make your voice heard before it’s too late.
Photo is conclusive proof. St. Paul taking advantage of free speech.
Would you be a Christian if he didn’t?
Will your children’s children be Christian if you don’t?
History records that Paul’s message cut across the business of the 1%-ers of his day who cared more about profits than truth.
Acts 19:23-27 About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; 25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. 26 “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. 27 “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” NASU
Rome provided Paul a space to speak and he used it.
What is becoming of America?
Does the old adage regarding free speech in America apply here; use it or lose it?