It’s a Bible Belt story, but don’t worry—it has a happy ending

Oh, geez, Oklahoma.

There was a weird court case there recently. Well, maybe not so weird, unfortunately—I could see it happening here. To make it short, an atheist girl in high school was kicked off a sports team because she wouldn’t join in team prayers; abuse ensued; school officials lied; the principal assaulted the father; police and principal perjured themselves to press charges against him; threats were made to try and drive the family out of the state. It’s actually a little bit hard to believe such stuff could go on in 21st century America, but it went to trial, and this next little anecdote alone is enough to convince me that the Smalkowski family was discriminated against for their lack of faith.

Edwin introduced himself to the jury as National Legal Director for American Atheists and asked the prospective jury in the Oklahoma panhandle if they could accept the testimony of an Atheist over that of a professed Christian. When the jury looked at him blankly, the judge asked the prospects if they understood the question. One woman spoke for many in the group by asking “What is an Atheist?” Edwin explained that an Atheist was a person who did not believe in a god or gods or in a supernatural world, and that the defendant and his entire family were such persons. Many of the prospects said they could not believe such a person over a Christian and were struck for cause. To their credit, many members of the jury panel, including two ministers’ wives, told the judge they could not be fair to an Atheist in such a situation and were excused.

Don’t worry, foreigners who read this, in the United States we ship all of our really stupid people to Oklahoma, so this story isn’t at all representative of what you’d discover in Iowa or Alabama or Pennsylvania.

Nah, I lied. Oklahoma is a perfectly normal state, and even in Minnesota we’d probably have to struggle to scrape up 12 people who both knew what an atheist was, and didn’t think they strangle kittens for fun. Sigh.

Anyway, the good news is that they did manage to find 12 intelligent people, and got a fast and unanimous verdict of not guilty. Yay, Oklahoma!

One cute postscript:

The night of the verdict, tornados of unusual violence descended on the panhandle of Oklahoma. The home of the Principal who had brought the false charges against Chuck Smalkowski was severely damaged.

This fact has no relationship whatsoever to the verdict.

Man, you mess with the religious and all you have to face are imaginary, invisible, insubstantial ghosts; screw with the godless and you have to deal with the immense power of the real physical universe. (To be fair, though, you still have to deal with the same forces even if you don’t screw with us.)


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    I really, really hope they go forward with that civil suit. That school district needs to be hurt badly in the bank account so that nobody associated with it even thinks of pulling this kind of crap ever again.

  2. ajay says

    You know, you make “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”; religious nuts everywhere go mad; nobody gets struck by lightning.

    You make “The Last Temptation of Christ”; religious nuts everywhere go ballistic; nobody gets struck by lightning.

    You code “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”; moralists everywhere rupture arteries; nobody gets struck by lightning.

    You write “The Blind Watchmaker” and drive the creationists to fury; you remain unstruck by lightning.

    Your wardrobe malfunctions on live TV; suddenly you’re a moral vacuum; nobody gets struck by lightning.

    But you make “The Passion of the Christ”, which the fundaligionists love – and THREE PEOPLE get struck by lightning.

    You persecute atheists – and your house gets ripped apart by a tornado.

    It’s enough to make you believe a) that there’s a god and b) he’s on the atheists’ side…

  3. CCP says

    yeah, jeez, Oklahoma. I did six long years in Stillwater OK and I can assure all that it is not a “perfectly normal state.” It’s off in the tail of the distribution, a place where the plumber asks what church you attend so he can “witness” to you; a place where University students regularly walk out of biology lectures because their pastors have convinced them that it’s a sin to even hear about evolution. Truly culturally backwards. (Yes of course many individual exceptions and a minority of rational progressive folks.) All the more reason to celebrate this verdict.

  4. Simple Country Physicist says

    I fear that you give the denizens of Alabama entirely too much benefit of the doubt. The idea that the average God-fearing Alabaman would recuse him or herself from a trial involving non-Christians for conflict of religious interest is not credible, IMHO. You ascribe them much more integrity than I have witnessed.
    After all, this is the state where the chief justice of the state supreme court installed a five ton granite copy of the ten commandments in the court house rotunda without any consideration of the rights of others.

  5. says

    I think that what surprised me the most about this story is that there is an atheist family living in Hardesty, OK – a town with a population of approx. 277!! According to this, Hardesty High School only has 37 students (in 2004). She must have felt really out of place. Good for her for standing up for her beliefs and not caving to the pressure to be a believer.

  6. says

    God is an atheist? I feel so conflicted now.

    And yes, I know that places like Alabama and Oklahoma are ripe with ignorance; but so are Minnesota and New York and California. We have a national problem, even if it sticks up more prominently in some places more than other.

  7. says

    But you make “The Passion of the Christ”, which the fundaligionists love – and THREE PEOPLE get struck by lightning.

    Maybe concentrated ignorance ionizes the surrpunding air, giving lightning an easier path through the air? There has got to be a perfectly rational natural explanation for this effect. :)

  8. says

    You make “The Last Temptation of Christ”; religious nuts everywhere go ballistic; nobody gets struck by lightning.

    Uh, actually the actor who played Jesus was struck by lightning … twice.

    You’d think they would have gotten the point.

  9. Mark Paris says

    I don’t know whether to be relieved or greatly distressed at the idea that Alabama is not significantly different from other states.

  10. Xocolotl says

    To be fair, this is in one of the ass ends of the state. The rural districts are very different from the cities.

  11. David Wilford says

    PZ, while stereotypes about atheists are national, there is a very real and scary difference in how that’s expressed around the nation. In New York City I could shout to the skies that I am an atheist, and no one would care. In rural Alabama, I took care to just keep my mouth shut about the subject of religion, as my long hair was already drawing some uncomfortable stares from people when I’d stop and have breakfast with my wife as we were traveling together. I still remember what happened to uppity nigras in the 60s down south, and have no wish to needlessly tempt some yahoo’s desire to pick a fight.

    That said, the quote about the tornados of unusual violence having no relationship to the verdict is priceless, and sad at the same time. The fact someone thought they had to point out there was no connection is also very sad in terms of how people really do think in animistic terms, where non-human phenemenon are attributed with human purposes. Tornados are not people, nor are they acts of God. The insurance company will pay up for the damages the principal’s home suffered, as the should. You don’t have to be an atheist to be fair.

  12. Ginger Yellow says

    . After Smalkowski rejected the offer to drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state, the charges were raised to a felony.

    What the hell? What sort of justice system is that? It’s like something out of the Wild West.

  13. Lya Kahlo says

    I am always shocked to see such blatant bigotry from people who claim moral superiority. I know I shouldn’t be, but to see that these people lied, slandered, attempted to physcial injure and then tried to run a family out of the state simply for not believing in fairy tales still manages to shock and dismay me. If this is the type of people religion produces, then they are the strongest advert of atheism ever.

  14. Steve LaBonne says

    The tribal us-against-them mentality promoted by the Abrahamic religions is a large part of their appeal.
    It resonates in an unfortunate way with the hunter-gatherer psyches with which the history of our species has burdened us.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    The “happy ending” ain’t over yet: I predict a minority of the townspeople will try to make the Smalkowskis’ life a living hell (a plurality if they sue; a majority if they win).

    Further prediction: the family will move by the end of the decade, and the next occupants of their house (if it hasn’t been burned down) will hold some kind of exorcism ritual before taking residence.

  16. says

    God is an atheist? I feel so conflicted now.

    This is one of my favorite responses to Pascal’s Wager: What if God exists, but she punishes unjustified credulity and rewards honest skepticism?

  17. quork says

    But Barack Obama says:

    It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase `under God,’

    Those uppity atheists!

    BTW, I searched for Mainstream Media articles on the Smalkowski story and came up empty.

  18. says

    This reminds me of an old joke. The college-educated daughter brings her new boyfriend home to meet her religious parents. The father ask the young man “What church do you belong to?” He answers that he is an agnostic. Trying not to be judgemental, the father replies “Well, it doesn’t really matter—we all worship the same God, after all…”

  19. cm says

    And yes, I know that places like Alabama and Oklahoma are ripe with ignorance; but so are Minnesota and New York and California. We have a national problem, even if it sticks up more prominently in some places more than others.

    Ignorance or benighted religiosity is not just an American problem–it’s a human problem (even if it sticks up more prominently in some countries more than others).

  20. MReap says

    CCP, you were in Stillwater, what did you expect? Now Norman…Go Sooners!

    Actually, as an Episcopalian I had much more fun in Oklahoma than I do here in Minnesota. We were such a different bunch to the usual hooey in the surrounding denominations (example: the spot for ECUSA Bishop of Oklahoma is open right now. One of the requirements for the job is supporting the blessing of same-sex unions.)

    In Minnesota Piskies are outnumbered 57 to 1 by just the ELCA Lutherans let alone other “liberal” denominations. We have to work very hard to be heard above the fray.

  21. DMLou says

    The night of the verdict, tornados of unusual violence descended on the panhandle of Oklahoma. The home of the Principal who had brought the false charges against Chuck Smalkowski was severely damaged.

    As an agnostic, I’ve always said (or at least said since I started considering myself agnostic) that if there was a God, He wouldn’t care if you were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, or Atheist. He’d just care if you were a good person or not. After all, as an omnipotent being who cared about His creations, He’d be above the need for worship and all that. This definitely falls in that pattern. :)

  22. says

    PZ Myers: There’s a story told of JMS (creator of Babylon 5) that is somewhat analogous. Supposedly he was told by someone (in admiration): “you are god!” and he said something like thanks, but no thanks, as he needed the self esteem, for being a god and atheist would be a great way not to believe in himself.

    Daryl McCullough: Joke? Something like that supposedly actually happened to Bertrand Russell. He was arrested for protesting the UK’s involvement in WWI and was asked by the warden what religion he affiliated with. He considered saying “none”, but figured that might be awkward. So, he said, “agnostic”, and got the line from your joke.

  23. says

    “After Smalkowski rejected the offer to drop the charges if he and his Atheist family left the state, the charges were raised to a felony.” I wonder who it was that “offered” this deal/threat? That is particularly troubling. And to leave the state? For which other state? Were all the other atheists in Oklahoma supposed to leave (and go where?) with them?

    Just plain scary.

  24. Jake B. Cool says

    Daryl’s story reminds me of another. A Jew goes to Belfast on business and is asked by someone he meets, “So, are you Protestant or Catholic?” He responds, “Well, actually neither, I’m Jewish.” His interlocutor responds, “Yeah, yeah, but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?”

  25. ktesibios says

    A civil suit might be the only remedy a private citizen or organization can pursue on their own, but-

    Perjury is a criminal offense in every state of the Union. Conspiring to deprive someone of their civil rights is a Federal crime. Officials, including cops, can be and have been thrown in prison for these offenses.

    I’d be pressing for a federal civil rights investigation.

  26. bernarda says

    Just remember that Woody Guthrie was from Oklahoma.
    It seems things have gone downhill from then.

    Also the Cherokees settled in Oklahoma after they were ethnically cleansed from their land in Georgia and marched on the Trail of Tears. Of course they got robbed a second time there.

  27. Pablo says

    [i]…in the United States we ship all of our really stupid people to Oklahoma…[/i]

    As a native Oklahoman (and a Sooner), I wish I could disagree with you. Being an atheist in Oklahoma is like being a sane person in a mental institution. This kind of behavior from school and city officials, even in a small town in the panhandle, disgusts me and makes me glad I moved away. Then again, New Mexico isn’t much better.

  28. says

    I refused to pledge and had to stand outside the class in a cold breezeway in the winter. I took my punishment proudly, but not loudly. Seems it was only my Latin instructor and myself who knew the real reason I was standing outside, allegiance to the flag in Latin minus ‘under god’.

  29. says

    Let’s put it this way – I view this American Atheists article the way you all view WorldNetDaily articles (except a big difference is that you can actually find outside coverage of the issues WND reports on).

  30. says

    There has been outside coverage of this story, but evidently not outside the immediate area, so you have to dig a little deeper to find it. Exhibit A: “Reason for suspension debated” from the Oklahoman (Google cached version, as the story has been deleted on the original site, for some strange reason). Money quote:
    “‘They told my daughter that another girl told them she threatened to kill someone,’ said Nadia Smalkowski, Nicole’s mother.”
    Exhibit B: “Trial Begins in Parent-Prayer-Principal case” from KFDA in Amarillo, TX.

    The story’s there, but very few news outlets seem to have bothered to pick up on it. But, you know, if you hear of the Hardesty School District or the Texas County Sheriff’s Dept. sueing American Atheists for libel, and find outside coverage of the fact, be sure to let us know.

  31. says

    I’ve done a little bit of searching for evidence to confirm this story. I made an attempt to confirm the existence of a tornado hitting Guymon, OK on the evening of June 22, 2006 through, and was told there are no preliminary reports for tornadoes in Guymon for June 22 (see, though there were two reports from Beaver County, OK on June 21, 2006. The National Climatic Data Center’s Storm Data database should be up-to-date for June by late September or early October.

    I found a posting from Chester Smalkowski here:×1263

    This posting includes this statement: “Teachers watched as students said she was gay because she voted for Kerry, only homosexuals vote for Kerry, we are Christian we vote for Bush.” Did the school have a mock election, or is this inaccurate description (Nicole Smalkowski was 15 last year, so 14 when she “voted for Kerry”).

  32. says

    It is about time atheist got bashed. After all, Christian have been bashed for years now. A Christian can’t speak up for Jesus Christ in public for fear of offending someone, but an atheist or pagan can do anything they want and get a way with it. Look at the filthy homosexuals mocking God by their lifestyle. A fiery eternity is a waiting them. This is true of the pagans and the atheists. It is interesting that the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart that there is no God,” (Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1). This high school girl who is an atheists is foolish according to the Bible, and a warning must be given her. How many Christian high school students were denied the right to pray in school. It’s against the law to pray in school, even though we live in a Christian nation that is suppose to depend on God, and ask for his provisions. Jesus Christ is Lord, and if people don’t like it; tough. I will pray where I want to, when I want to, and how I want to; and I don’t care if anybodies offended by it. Eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord for the Glory of God. This girl will be forced on her knee’s, and she will be forced to pray to the Almighty God (Jesus Christ) whether she wants to or not.

  33. TheCannon says

    Dear Terry,
    For someone calling himself a Christian, that was one of the most un-Chirstian posts I’ve ever read.

    1] No, it isn’t about time that an atheist got bashed. In fact, no one should be getting bashed. You (or anyone else) are not put on this earth to judge anyone. If you don’t agree with their lifestyle, your job is to go about living your own life to the best of your abilities and let them live theirs.

    2] It may be your opinion that some people are mocking God by their lifestyles. If they indeed are, let God sort them out. What if God thinks that you’re mocking him with your lifestyle? Besides, who put God’s thoughts into your head, and how do you know what mocks him?

    3] Again, if she’s a fool, let God sort her out. None of your business.

    4] It’s against the law to pray in school precisely becuase it is NOT a Christian nation. Read your Constitution and get to know it. Other religions (and those who choose not to believe in religion) have just as many rights as Christians – why must you feel the need to force your beliefs unto others?

    5] I don’t care if you pray where/when/how you want to. It sure doesn’t offend me. Why does it offend you if I don’t join in?

    6] You don’t need an apostrophe to pluralize “knees”. An apostrophe signifies possession, such as to say “The knee’s ligaments have been torn”, meaning that the ligaments belong to the knee. This rule applies in all cases, with all words, with the exception of “it’s” signifying not possession, but a contraction of the words “it” and “is”.

    7] Okay, now we’re FORCING people to pray to the Almighty God (Jesus Christ). So, what you’re saying is that you can’t make a logical enough case why she should rationally believe in God through your arguments. Or you’re saying that you believe that she’s too stupid to see a rational agreement when confronted with one. I choose the former. Nothing you have said, other than hurling threats, supports your cause. Try again.


  34. A rope leash says

    The vast majority of tornadic activity is confined to North America, and specifically to the midwest and south of the USA.

    Many if not most victims of tornadoes are Christian. This is simply the result of normal chaos, which does not judge or choose.

    It always seems to work out, though, which is why I really like chaos…

  35. mister c says

    Only one thing about Terry’s post and TheCannon’s response(note the correct use of apostrophe)–praying in school is not illegal. The only rule on praying is that it cannot be led by any faculty or other authority figure or in any other way sponsored by the school. Students are free to pray all they want–just check right before a big test. Just wanted to clear up that small point.

  36. Walter Klingler says

    I am thrilled to hear that Chester Smalkowski has been found not guilty on all counts. I am not surprised that during voir dire, the defense counsel had to explain to some of the potential jurors what an “atheist” is. After all, this is the bible belt. Considering the verdict, one might hold some hope for the folks in Oklahoma.

  37. David Harmon says

    One of my favorite Terry Pratchett quotes (from The Last Hero):

    “What goes around comes around. If not examined too closely, it passes for justice.”

  38. says

    Ugh. The “it’s illegal to pray in school” trope is so irritating. And it doesn’t help that even articles concerning instances of faculty-led prayer still call it “school prayer”.

  39. Kim Boone says

    Hi there.
    My first comment here, so first of all: love the blog!

    This story boggles my mind. I’m from Belgium, and among the people I know, the prevalent religion is “there-must-be-something-ism”. Being an atheist, I do discuss religion with these people, and it is always friendly or at least respectful.
    I already knew that Americans are much more inclined to adhere to this or that specific church, but this kind of intolerance I simply cannot grasp.
    I mean, are people trying to re-enact the dark ages in this “new world”, home of the free.
    Scary, to say the least.

  40. says

    Grand_Moff_Texan: I see nothing on IMDB or Google about Willem Dafoe, who played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, being struck by lightning. Where are you getting your information?

  41. auntie-em says

    The people of Oklahoma may be a little low on the IQ scale – but they do have a wonderful sense of humor.

  42. Doug says

    I am an Oklahoman and I reject the comments that Oklahomans are dumber or more narrow-minded than people anywhere else.
    That being said I will admit that the local culture favors a particularly narrow-minded version of fundamentalist Christianity but it is not so different from that which is found throughout the country, particularly the mid-west. I also happen to be a scholar of religion (not a theology student, an academic religious studies student) and can tell you that rather than worry about a tiny town in a part of the country that’s known as “No Man’s Land” we should be concerned that the same type of people who would react this way to an out of place atheist are currently sitting atop the Excecutive Branch of the government! There are definitely differences if you want to split hairs, but fundamentalist Christianity is not just an ‘issue’ in Oklahoma, by any stretch of the imagination. Besides that, this girl and her family, had they been a little more aware of their socio-cultural surroundings, ought to have expected the reaction they got. I didn’t have to live here for very long before I realized what kind of people I was dealing with.

  43. Dee says

    Well the bible DOES mention that thing about not bearing false witness against thy neighbor. Guess the fine upstanding Christians forgot about that part.

  44. Meret says

    Science Goddess ~

    Caviezel was Jesus in the Passion of the Christ

    Dafoe was Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (a far better movie in my humble opinion).

    Like #47 said, I’m pretty sure Willem was never fried during filming, let alone twice.

  45. LesserOfTwoWeevils says

    You haven’t got a very strong grip on reality, do you Terry?

    ‘A Christian can’t speak up for JC in public without being bashed’?

    That’s odd.. A simple Google search turns up at least 4 DOZEN ‘Christian’ televison shows. Can you point out ANY TV shows dedicated to the idea of Atheism? Looks to me like you’re doing one HELL of a lot of ‘speaking up’ without anyone doing anything to stop you.

    an atheist or pagan can do anything they want and get a way with it.

    They can? That’s funny, the laws of our country seem to affect everyone equally, though several religious groups have been caught hiding infractions of the law from public knowledge. Can you name a few things that atheists can ‘get away with’ that ‘Christians’ can’t?

    Look at the filthy homosexuals mocking God by their lifestyle. A fiery eternity is a waiting them. This is true of the pagans and the atheists.

    What ever happend to ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’? ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’? ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of one of these, my children, ye have done it unto me’? or even ‘By this shall man know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one for another’?

    All I see in your post is hate and superiority, both of which appear to show you as far less of a ‘Christian’ than you think you are. You pick and choose a few cryptic passages that you can use to hate others, and completely ignore the actual words of Jesus himself! I’d look to the beam in your own eye before worrying about anyone else’s motes.

    You are yet another PERFECT example of a ‘Christian’ using their religion to hate, belittle, and force others actions into their own mold. Now WHY would anyone have a problem with such blatant hypocrisy?

    Is it any wonder that some people don’t want to be tarred with the same brush? *I* certainly wouldn’t want to be known as ‘Christian’, when I see ‘Christians’ around the world continually breaking the very rules they are trying to force on everyone else.

    How many Christian high school students were denied the right to pray in school.

    Ooh, that’s easy! NONE. It’s perfectly legal to pray in school, Are you too stupid to understand the difference between personal prayer and FORCING OTHERS TO PRAY with you?

    It’s against the law to pray in school,

    No, it’s not. You’ve been fed lies by your religious leaders again. Maybe if you took the time to learn the TRUTH, you’d make less of a fool of yourself?

    even though we live in a Christian nation

    But we DON’T. We live in a FREE nation, a nation that is expressly NOT any particular religion, a nation that proudly trumpets our FREEDOM to believe as we wish! You’ve been lied to again, and you might do yourself a lot of good to educate yourself before looking even more a fool.

    Jesus Christ is Lord, and if people don’t like it; tough. I will pray where I want to, when I want to, and how I want to; and I don’t care if anybodies offended by it.

    But you think the atheists should be bashed, warned, punished in hell if they don’t let you FORCE them to pray along with you? What a sanctimonious, blind hypocrite you truly are!

    Thank you for reminding me again why I came to my senses and got away from Christianity and religion! Thank you for your excellent example of ‘Christian’ hate, bigotry, and hypocrisy. With people like you around, it makes it a lot easier to show people that Christians are no better (And in many cases worse!) than others. For all their vaunted closeness to God, they’re just as small-minded, clannish, and petty as everyone else on the planet. Sort of strange, if they’re supposedly recieving wisdom from the Supreme Being and no one else is, don’t you think?

    The Lesser of TWO Weevils!

  46. SweetSynaa says

    The guy that said the actor who played Jesus in The Last Temptation was struck my lightning twice is horribly misinformed. That was William Dafoe.. he’s never been struck by lightning… come on. This always seems like more evidence that there’s a strong link of ignorance and religion. It’s always religious zealots that are prone to horribly obvious urban myths. Twinkies only last for a few weeks on the shelf, by the way.

  47. azumahazuki says

    Terry Gabrich:

    If you don’t see the irony in your statements (and apparently you don’t, since you need the pointed out for you) you are simply beyond redemption.

    Even assuming everything you’ve said happens to be true, that somehow your precise version of Christianity is the One True Faith (TM), what makes you think you’re getting to heaven with a heart full of hate like that? Why do so many Christians conveniently forget all the times Jesus said “turn the other cheek” and “judge not, lest you be judged?”

    Surely it’s not because you think you know better than God, is it?

  48. slappedbyzsa says

    I am from Chicago and somehow found my way to Kansas City, Missouri.
    For about six months, it seemed OK. Perhaps I was too busy to really connect with people.
    Then the bizarre encounters began. People would chase me with their cars when they wanted to date me and pull in front of me. When I didn’t comply, threats began to take place.

    Many people in the Biblebelt do drugs, and not in the manner in which I grew up doing them. This is the kind of world where you are either one of us, or you’re one of them, and you will be stomped out if you do not join a team. I’m not much on hate, not much on clubs, not much on threats. In other words… I was doomed from the day I landed here. It is hard to explain the culture here without sounding bizarre yourself. These people are afraid of and hate anyone that doesn’t agree with everything they say, everything they want you to do. You must only have the friends which they choose for you. You can easily be chosen not to have any friends at all. You can easily be chosen not to have a job, proper medical care, and it will not end after you have left here.

    It is rather strange. I came here from a life where I spent my time trying to do good in the world. I did news stories on homeless people, would track them down under the bridges where they lived. I would work with newly arrived imigrants, teach people english for free. I spent time finding medical care, housing and clothing and other support for people that did not have it. I didn’t grow up with the bible. I have been to church in the past, but these things I did, because I found in them a good way to know people. It just seemed like something good to do.

    So after about six months of living in Kansas City in the Biblebelt I found myself stalked. I would go to another city after living here and people from Kansas City would find me and then tell local drug dealers that I was working with the police, so that the dealers would put gangs on me to threaten me. If you have read the opening part of this comment, you would realise that this was unlikely. Oh, I don’t hate the police (except when they don’t act like decent people) but I certainly don’t work for them. And growing up in Chicago I always found plenty of room in which to live my own alternative brand of life without them threatening mine. (We seem to be creative at creating those kinds of loopholes in Chicago.)

    All I can say is, after living in two cities in the Biblebelt, I must come to the conclusion that these are some of the ugliest people on earth. Old white trash burnt-out hippies (or so they seem to fashion themselves, the hippie part at least.) They own most of the businesses that still are left (people flee here if they can afford to) and some people think that most of those businesses are fronts for drug dealing. The lives of so many people here in fact, revolve around such activities, in a closed door, hidden kind of way, that there is no such thing as simple life. You can’t just go out for a coffee. If you can’t drink, which I can’t, you can’t go out to a bar because they will probably tell everyone that you are a narc. In fact it really doesn’t matter if they think you are or not, they will tell everyone that you are a narc just for the fun and the meanness of it. You know, it’s even funnier if it isn’t true. You weren’t one of them anyway, were you? So fuck you.
    Like in the old south, this is a life ruled by terror. And yet these people fashion themselves as religious, liberal, friendly and laid-back, modern. They like to watch tv and they eventually have the styles.
    Here’s a scarey scene…. Ever met a redneck gay person? A redneck gay queen? The kind of conniving person that spins along on meth or crack and likes to start rumors that really hurt people, in fact, make it the issue of their life to do so? That’s the Biblebelt, and that’s Kansas City. Yep, there are even a redneck gay black persons that get along ‘real well’ with the redneck white people. They have assimilated. As they had likened to say in the old sixties films, they have become… “The Man”.

    Strange to say, I have never actually hated religion, although George Bush, and the Bible Belt… have pushed me in that direction more than any other force might have. This is a very twisted kind of world where the worst that is in all people is called upon and focused like a fine point laser beyond any possible compensation of logic. Why is the prison rate so high in the Biblebelt? Why do people regularly take out their guns, and then go home to home until they have killed all their accessible living relatives, here in the Biblebelt? Did God put a voice in their head?

    This place is like a ghostown. It is a place where rot is king. Whatver this is supposed to have to do with Jesus is beyond me. Like I have said, I never had such a big problem with religion, but it would appear to again be hitting me in the face despite all my best efforts… Religious people often seem to be the ugliest, most evil people in this world, and what their actions have to do with anything religious is beyond my comprehension. Or perhaps I have had the concept of religion all wrong from the get-go.

    Perhaps I should have been ‘religious’. I actually seem to have some morals, decent standards. That doesn’t mean standards like saying all gays should go to hell, that all drug users should be in jail, that if you don’t think like I do that you should be burnt or locked away.

    From the looks of what I have seen here, these people are supposed to be Christians, and I have never heard such a holy rollin’ sound anywhere else in the country.

    Once I lived in Houston. Again, a strange place, where, if you didn’t have the means to make it or if you couldn’t (say you were disabled) you should just die off to make everything better for everyone else. And that was a rather religious state. They like to talk about god a lot and a thousand points of light. And they did have that entertaining and strange Ann Richards lady. I did not totally hate Texas. Maybe a guy from Chicago was strange there but they had a few things going that I will always miss. Some Texans can be pretty creative. Ya-Hoo!

    But here, in the Bible Belt they are big about talking about god. Mostly they seem to be talking about ugly, how to run this one out of town and then what to do with them after that. They are specialists at turning anything nice into something ugly. In fact perhaps that is why the Biblebelt is so sad.

    As I had said, I have not always believed that religion was evil, dangerous, something that had to be necesarily ignorant. Unfortunately, these people are specialists in taking any positive turn and making it backwards. If there is a God they have long ago broken his back… and they don’t care.