Oklahoma Atheist Family Resists Right-wing Christian Regime, Prevails
by JewsOnFirst.org, July 11, 2006
Bloggers have been telling the story of Chuck (Chester) Smalkowski for the past ten days -- since his acquittal in Texas County, Oklahoma on shockingly severe felony assault charges. The charges stemmed from Smalkowski's 2004 encounter with the principal of his daughter's school; he wanted to protest his daughter's being forced to join her basketball team's prayer circle. The Smalkowskis are atheists.
Smalkowski wrote about it last year on the Democratic Underground blog:
So I had a talk with the principal on a saturday night leting him know I was going to sue the school. A fight ensued and I was charged with assault.
Writing on his own website, Scooter Journals (found courtesy of the Religion Clause blog of Prof. Howard M. Friedman), Smalkowski recounts the agonizing moments when the jury handed the judge the verdict and he waited, amid a lynch-mob-like crowd of spectators praying for his conviction, and braced for the word "guilty," the crowd cheering, the devastation of his family. He recounts his near disbelief when he was acquitted on all counts.
His story is a sobering look (hopefully not a preview) at what it is like to live under the rule of right-wing evangelical Christianity. Here is a bit of his account of his time awaiting trial.
Smalkowski also writes about his first attorney, more loyal to that intolerant Christian community of Hardesty than to his client. The lawyer charged him a lot of money and never told him that he should file a federal lawsuit against the school system and its illegal prayer policy. Smalkowski writes of the American Atheist organization's lawyer whom he credits with his acquittal and who also represented him in a civil suit.
JewsOnFirst's efforts to determine the outcome of the civil case have been unsuccessful to date. Court docket entries show that it was filed in May 2005, went to mediation, and was dismissed by both parties in May 2006. Such a dismissal generally indicates that a case has been settled. But the American Atheist news release suggests that a civil case might be filed. That suggests an action for bad faith prosecution. Smalkowski's attorney has not returned phone and email messages and the family cannot (understandably) be reached for comment.
Smalkowski Found Not Guilty On All Counts
American Atheists, June 26, 2006
An American Atheists attorney from Kentucky helped win Chester (Chuck) Smalkowski's acquittal on felony counts stemming from his challenge of the school system's treatment of his daughter. This is the American Atheists' news release on the case. Continue
Hardesty man faces trial for assaulting school principal
KOKI Fox23 Online (Tulsa, Oklahoma), April 27, 2005
GUYMON, Okla. (AP) - A Texas County judge rules there's enough evidence to try a Hardesty man for aggravated assault against a school principal. Continue
Sheriff called to Hardesty School
By Sarah Lewers, Guymon Daily Herald, November 23, 2005
A 15-year old Hardesty student was suspended from school for five days The Oklahoman reported Tuesday.
Nadia Smalkowski told the The Oklahoman her daughter, Nicole Smalkowski, was suspended because the girl refused to recite a prayer with her team following basketball games, the newspaper reported. Continue
Bloggers on the Smalkowski case
Its even worse if you are a liberal and have no gods
In 2005 Chuck Smalkowski writes on the DemocraticUnderground.com blog the story, to date, of what happened to his family .
I live in a small town called Hardesty but it is truly just another Salem. Please spare a few moments to read this.
My name is Chester Francis Smalkowski Jr. I am an American. I was in the military and injured during Para rescue training in the U.S. Air Force. I have an Honorable discharge. I am a Liberal. I have no Gods. I was brought up and schooled to be a Lutheran Minister. I say the Pledge of Allegiance as it was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister. I accept evolution as the most promising theory to date. I have long hair. I ride a Harley. I love my family very much. My wife Nadia and I have three children, Nicole 15yrs, Czeslaw 11yrs and Bridgett 4yrs. Continue