Tell a friend

Donate

Email sign-up

defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

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.

I never started a fight in my life and I have had many. I've seen them all, bullies, bigots, young bucks and just plain-bored idiots.

But a year ago today, I had a fight out in the street with the principal who lied to my family and intentionally harmed my child. He was 350lbs, an ex-Marine.

I weighed 170. It is simple; just do the math. Believe what you want or what you need to believe. I turned myself in within 2 hours of an arrest warrant. Bail was set high at $5000 for a misdemeanor. When I paid it, it was switched to $15,000...

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.

The whole family was under constant stress. Police trying to get search warrants to the property by having ex-employees file false statements. Other cops trying to hire ex-cons to beat me up. The whole town knows of it! The Sheriff trying to have my bond pulled by the bail bondsman when there was no legal way to do it. My kids have been out of school since November. Principal's son saying should he get a gun when he sees my daughter and my son. DA has yet to reply to our concerns. The Department of Human Services comes to my place saying they received a complaint that I starve my kids. It was even obvious to them the charge was bogus.

We have become very good at using back roads. The police follow us around. Traffic tickets that when challenged were dropped in court. Not to mention the stares and whispers, the betrayal from employees, one of my healthy dogs dying. Brush fires starting up upwind.

An FBI agent even said, “ You aren't kidding”. When it was obvious someone followed us and was watching our meeting out in the middle of nowhere. I was told about a few things. All I can say is that some of the crooks out here now charged with crimes wore badges and guns! But he could not help my family and me. Not without witnesses willing to come forward. One scared witness left the state. The last words she spoke to me were, Chuck I don't want to end up dead in a ditch! Just what you would expect life to be like out here in the Bible belt!

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