When your job is to serve all the people, your beliefs about WE, THE PEOPLE, UNITED TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION, MATTER
letters@usatoday.com.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2021/10/30/religous-freedom-discrimination-christian-sexual-ethics-kelvin-cochran/5771821001/
"The threat to religious liberty I faced impacts all Americans, not just Christians. No one should lose their career because of their conscience." - from Kelvin Cochran, a senior fellow and vice president at Alliance Defending Freedom. He is the author of a new book about his experiences, "Facing The Fire."
“I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.” - the Atlanta City Councilmember who said this to you was 100% on point/ correct. I do not write to initiate a discussion or debate on your specific case. A judge has already issued their ruling.
An open letter to Kelvin Cochran:
Dear Mr. COCHRAN:
I write to you as a product of the American Public Education System. I saw your picture and headline which piqued my interest for three reasons:
1. )The ancestors on both sides of my American family came to this country to the best of my knowledge as chattel slaves.
2. ) We are both men of color
3. ) I chose to be baptized at the age of 13 because Christ had been presented to me through the Biblical narrative as 1.) Someone who had learned to love himself and all of his earthly and spiritual family. While born of a woman, he was adopted by her husband. As you are aware, there is no record of who his biological father was. Joseph had chosen to accept and Love his son, Jesus of Nazareth, unconditionally. All of their lives together, he treated consequently treated Jesus Christ with Unconditonal Positive Regard. It was, by all extant Biblical accounts like the priceless human being who his spiritual father had seen fit to give to him and his wife, Mary. Based upon the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as told by at least four different authors about 150 years after Jesus' death by crucifixion, Jesus consistently practiced what has come to be known as The Golden Rule (TGR). To wit, TGR states that we should treat everyone as we would treat ourselves.
Joseph, Mary, and their Son, Jesus, called Jesus Christ throughout the Biblical narrative. God The Father, Jesus The Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. Three human beings ( light, dark, and every shade in between) and three entities, mysterious and beyond human, make up the origin story of one man known in his time period as Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospels describe Joseph as a "tekton," which traditionally has meant "carpenter," and it is assumed that Joseph taught his craft to Jesus in Nazareth.
For me, sitting in the auditorium of JFK Memorial High School in Paterson, New Jersey in September 1973, I had the sense that the Jesus Christ I had chosen to believe in had:
1.) Chosen to deliver me through my mother's womb as a result of the union of my father"s sperm and my mother's egg into a place called America. America meant, "for all", so
2. ) for me as I sat in a room of infinitely diverse skin colors and at that time, at least two different genders ( observed) and four different sexual orientations ( experienced and observed), I thought this was God's way of showing me that I was in Heaven. Therefore, 3. ) becoming a Christian was the least I could do to say thank you to The Creator and the Creator's Creation. ( Or thank the Big Bang Theory and evolution. There's lots more(?) documented science and research to support that reality, as you may be aware having been a professional fireman.)
From where I sat that day and from everything I had seen in my thirteen years and four months of life on planet Earth, everything made sense in that moment. To borrow from one of the great griot Stevie Wonder, I was overjoyed and overwhelmed over the love I felt being in that place with all my fellow students. It was an intoxicating and surreal experience that I remember as if it were yesterday when I was young(er).
I did not say this out loud, but right from the start I was only absolutely sure of four things:
1.)Learning to love myself would be the greatest love of all;( LLTLMWTGLOA)
2.) Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) was required ( and I thought/ believed it to be easy because none of the stories about Jesus and the people he ministered to, with and among had shown me anything less optimal);
3.) Unconditional Love was the way to UPR, LLTLMITGLOA, and,
4.) practicing The Golden Rule (TGR) was the easiest thing in the world because it was the simplest thing to do. I always thought I would never want anyone to experience the "bad things" I had experienced and or heard and or seen by the time I was thirteen.
So my four universally applicable beliefs and my world view had at its core: A life spent learning to love all of me, all of the time, being Unconditionally Loving, treating all humans with Unconditional Positive Regard, and practicing The Golden Rule. As a matter of fact, looking back over my life sixty-two years and five months later, I do not believe I would be alive and able to write to you today if it were not for that personal decision I made and those core values I embraced on that precipitous day.
All that being said, I was never taught by any of my secular or religious teachers that my personal religious beliefs, sexual expression, skin color, or heritage made me better or worse than anyone else in the "tiny taste of Heaven" I experienced with 800 human beings in that auditorium on that bright and shining September morning.
So, as I read your story and looked at the court ruling you mentioned, it was clear that someone had miseducated you and or you have come to believe things about our nation and its governmental leaders that were never true for We, the people of the United States of America from the foundations of our uniquely American experience.
Church and state were designed to be separate in these United States of America. Free speech would never codify hate speech. There would always be people I disagreed with, sometimes intensely and perenially disagreed with but denigrating or disrespecting or dismissing them in thought, word, or deed was never a good or required thing for me to live in a piece of Heaven on earth or in " the life to come in Heaven, a city just foursquare."
But sadly, tragically, according to the Genesis narrative, fear and doubt ruined everything from the start, right after God created everything and called ALL OF IT GOOD, by the way. It is in that sadness and tragiocomic irony that I write to you on Saturday, October 30, 2021.
All that being said, we share at least three things in common. We are both non-white men who went through a lot to accomplish great things while being blessed to make our metrons , spheres of influence/communities, better for us having s served. We both learned the cost of speaking freely in America for men "without the complexion with the connection for the collection" is usually the loss of a job ( and or career(s)) that we really loved and came with significant risk to our health and well being.
We are both Black.
We are both male.
We have both suffered negative logical consequences for speaking freely about personal and private things that hundreds of millions of others have been rewarded, lauded, and admired for sharing publicly.
Moreover, at the end of the day, the only major difference I see between us is in the amount of things we have suffered for showing up and speaking up. But why engage in comparing notes that would make me sadder than I already am (or than we both are?)?
Motivated by fear and plagued by doubt, homo sapiens may very well succeed in destroying ourselves and the abundance of natural resources were given for free, a.k.a. Planet Earth. I am not sure what happens after one dies on earth. Furthermore, I am fine with that specific bit of not knowing for a certainty. However, I am sure that you are sure and that is a very good thing for you.
If you desire to fulfill Manifest Destiny and or the Divine Right of Kings and live in a theocracy, find some other planet where those things are core values of 100% of the inhabitants and go live there.
Therefore, all I would respectfully request that you and your current employer ( I suspect) cease and desist ( i.e., STOP IMMEDIATELY) fear mongering and sowing seeds of doubt among WE, THE PEOPLE, UNITED, TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION.
Sincerely,
Vernon P. Nickerson, MA
- from my adopted home state of California

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STOP ASSESS FACILITATE EDUCATE/EVOLVE/ EFFECT PERMANENT PEACE I Also am a minority advocate for humans choosing to be unconditionally loving. Be S.A.F.E.

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Vernon Nickerson

Vernon Nickerson

STOP ASSESS FACILITATE EDUCATE/EVOLVE/ EFFECT PERMANENT PEACE I Also am a minority advocate for humans choosing to be unconditionally loving. Be S.A.F.E.

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