A former Atlanta fire chief, who delivered a speech at a Black History Month event on Monday, suggested God allowed Africans to be brought to America as slaves and it was part of his divine plan. According to NBC News, this isn’t the first time Kelvin J. Cochran has raised eyebrows with his views.
The event in question was hosted by the Georgia Department of Labor and posted on YouTube. And in his speech, Cochran, who is Black, touched on how his opinion about religion goes in line with the founding of America. The former fire chief commences his speech by saying America “has been a part of God’s divine plan from the beginning of time.” He later touches on slavery and suggests “his story” forms part of everything in American history.
“Slavery in America did not catch God by surprise,” Cochran, a former fire chief at the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, said. “In his sovereignty, God … allowed Africans to be brought to America as slaves. Africa was on the eve of social, spiritual and economic catastrophe and famine — still going on today. So, He brought 6 million Africans to America through the Middle Passage as slaves.”
Cochran also likened the slavery that happened in Israel to African slavery. “Just as it was God’s divine plan to enslave the nation of Israel,” God, in his sovereignty, allowed “Africans to be brought to America in bondage.” Cochran made mention of a book of Genesis verse where God informed Abraham that his descendants were going to endure enslavement and abuse for 400 years. He also claimed that though slave masters refrained from teaching about slavery and Christianity, enslaved people amassed outside churches to secretly listen to worship sermons, NBS News reported.
Elsewhere in his speech, Cochran paid tribute to the likes of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, saying that he could “stand up here and tell my story” and “celebrate African American history month” because of those civil rights icons.
“Here’s the bottom line — we all came here on different boats, but now we’re in the same boat,” he said. “And if we can only quieten our souls long enough, to look at the sovereignty of God in our history, his goodness and his mercies, we would all cry out together, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.’”
“I thank God for America, and I thank God for American history,” he added. Cochran has in the past raised eyebrows for his homophobic sentiments. In 2013, he shared among his subordinates a copy of a Bible study book that he had published. Titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, the book is said to have homophobic comments that claim gay people as well as individuals who have premarital sex are “naked”, wicked and ungodly sinners, NBC News reported. He also labeled homosexuality a “sexual perversion” and likened it to bestiality.
Cochran was suspended without pay in 2014 for not seeking approval or issuing an official notice before the book was published. His suspension came after an assistant fire chief expressed reservations about the book. In the wake of his suspension, Cochran initiated a campaign alleging he was terminated because of his religious beliefs. He was later relieved of his duties in January 2015.
But in 2018, Cochran was paid $1.2 million by Atlanta to settle a lawsuit he filed against the city and ex-Mayor Kasim Reed over his termination. The former fire chief was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom – a conservative Christian legal advocacy group. Cochran is now a senior fellow and vice president of the organization.