Just Another Salem

You may recall that distressing story of discrimination against atheists in Oklahoma—it worked out well in the end, but the family involved was raked through the coals first. I recently received some email that is purportedly written by the defendant in that case, Chuck Smalkowski. I haven’t been able to get more information to verify it, but it doesn’t seem to be anywhere else on the web, and the mail does trace back to an origin in Hardesty, OK, so I’m accepting it as legitimate. It’s Smalkowski’s own perspective on the events in his trial.

You might also want to read this account by Smalkowski, written in December 2005, before the trial. The following letter describes the outcome.

The bailiff took the piece of paper from the foreman of the jury and handed it to the Judge. He opened the paper and while staring at it he nodded. The courtroom was silent and the jury stared straight ahead.
I have been in many situations where my life or limb were on the line but I was still in the game and had a hand to play. But not here, here I just sat waiting for the verdict.

Though I worried about being sent away for five years on bogus charges, my dread was the Christian mob. They knew I must be found guilty in order to slow or stop the civil case being filed in Federal court. Since the start of my daughter’s stand against the public schools disregard for the law of the land, it was imperative to run us out of the county to make any civil action non valid. With me in jail for five years running my family out would be a whole lot easier, or so they might have thought.

The courtroom was packed for it is the Bible belt. There was no love in this courtroom.

The loving Christians brought their children to hear the verdict. They brought the town. They brought ministers. I even saw another Judge in the back of the room. The Judge who in an earlier hearing while slapping an inch thick stack of papers on his bench saying with a list of witnesses this big you had better be a good boy. It was lies then, it was lies now and the DA knew it! (She was later forced to hand over a written statement she denied for over a year existed!)

People prayed openly for a conviction. Many holding their bibles. During the trial the Prosecutions side of the courtroom was packed. Only my son and Edwin Kagin’s wife, Helen sat behind me, but now there was not enough room in the whole courtroom.

Yet now the so-called victim, the 325 lbs victim, the ex Marine, hurrahs, was nowhere to be found. Neither was the woman assistant district attorney anywhere to be found.

Whose vindictive, bogus case this was from the start.

What type of place is this? Well, this is not the place for a little debate in a coffee shop with the sweet salt air rolling up from San Francisco bay. This is a place where the children write on their schoolbooks the South will rise again. This is a place where they say that black people caused slavery! Where they burn rock CD’s. Mormons are the tools of Satan. That my daughter is gay cause only homosexuals vote for Kerry and Christians vote for Bush. Atheists worship Satan!

Where religious fanaticism is fused with political rhetoric and political leaders pander to this madness.

This place has a sickness, a malignant disease and it is spreading. Edwin saw it first hand.

There has not been many a trial with a Not Guilty verdict in this county for years. The head DA is good friends with the self-righteous in the courtroom and greets them all by name. You know the type.

Many old women in the courtroom are taking notes. Others have been taking notes at every hearing for the past year and a half! They strain to listen not wanting to miss one juicy word. With the pens and pads they write continuously. The pads shaking with every push of the pen. Even writing down what my children spoke amongst themselves.

Blue gray haired old Christian spinsters bitter for wasting all those fruitful years now just waiting for those pearly gates. These are truly the wicked. You have seen them before. With their bogus self-righteousness they strut and sneer. How far we have not come.

Others had walked out into the hall and warned a police witness saying that justice must be served, that justice better be served. The judge called a hearing on the threat. He warned the crowd that if it happens one more time he would have no choice but to throw out the case. He was between a rock and a hard place. He knows my lawyers are watching and the loving Christians are out for my blood, and they are watching too. The law, elections and politics were all in play. The Judge left the court for his chambers and stayed away for a quite awhile.

The Christians, the loving Christians! Praying to a God whose wings are dripping in the blood of innocent men, woman and children down through the ages. Truly hypocrisy is one of their commandments and the blood of the innocence one of their sacraments!

Christian against Christian, Christian against Moslem, Christian against Mormon. Basically Christian against anyone or anything that challenges their pathetic little fairy tale.

Go to any Indian reservation and see the lies and broken promises by a country with “Under God” in their pledge.

I assume I need not have to explain about the loving hymns sung in church on Sunday and beatings of black slaves on Monday. But on Monday night the good old Master has a little tippee toe over to slave huts for a little brown sugar. While the queen of the manor is in the master bedroom past out on an opium tonic. Praise the Lord!

Well, that was then but now the court was about to hear the verdict. There was a feeding frenzy about to begin with the dirty little atheist and his family put in their place with him in jail and the family run out of town. Like the teacher told my daughter “This is a Christian country and if you don’t like it get out!”

I could hear my heart beat in my ears and I dreaded the cheers from the righteous mob that were about to begin.
The pain of having my family being in the front row to witness this swirling cesspool of hatred come to its inevitable end with my head on a pike, sucked the air right out of my lungs.

It was truly just another Salem. Different time and place. Same characters with new names. Oh, no gallows or big oak tree this time. But if they could they surely would.
How far we have not come. I know, I already said that but do you really understand what a tragedy it means? The whole universe is ours if we want it but instead we must gravel in the dirt having to debate the obvious.

I have been standing against injustice most of my life. It is my nature. I am a child of the 60’s and proud of it. But what of my poor family? They stood so proud and strong. They are tougher than I will ever be. I had told them do not cry. Do not give these bastards any satisfaction. I told my wife if I see you cry I will surely loose it. I said it is in the Federal courts we will set things right and send that wall higher than it has ever been. On the wall behind us was a painting of the signing of the Declaration.

The judge handed the verdict to the clerk. The only sound was the paper. The paper in the clerk’s hands with the hand written words that spelled my doom, my family’s fate and the inevitable cheers from the Christian mob.
With my guts in my throat and no air to breathe. The court clerk read the decision of the jury.

We the jury find the defendant:

On the charge of Aggravated Assault and Battery:

Not Guilty!

On the charge of Assault and Battery:

Not Guilty!

On the charge of Assault:

Not Guilty!

On the charge of Battery:

Not Guilty!

Not a word, not a sound. The lynching had been canceled.

I took my first free breath in almost two years. I looked at the jury and mouth the words thank you. I gazed at the floor as floodgates opened, I dared not move my head that others might see. Charley don’t cry, but free air has its effects.

With all their praying, lies, crooked cops, warning that justice better be done, packing the courthouse with their followers, Even a teacher on the jury who had taught at the Hardesty School. (Our motion to take her off the jury denied.) Not guilty was still the outcome. The evidence was obvious. This was a bad case. And 12 men and women had the guts.

From the start of this legal fight my lawyers said Atheism must be kept out. That it was a no go in the Bible belt. I was just adamant that Atheism be brought in. For it is the reason. It was the motive for all the lies and hate. I felt it was about time that this dirty little secret of hate, persecution, Christian madness and hypocrisy is brought out into the light of day. When I told my lawyers this they all gave me the same bewildered stare.
So one by one, I dropped one lawyer then two. Then I had a hard time in finding another one. My third lawyer was still trying to convince me to keep my atheism out even up till the day of the trial. I still said no. Somewhere along the line I talk to the ACLU out of San Francisco. Who let me know my first civil lawyer was not telling me the whole story. I was advised by them and many others to complain to the Bar about him.

You see he never told me that the prayer in itself is illegal. That the schools in this area were not following the state and federal funding guidelines. When I asked him after finding out from the ACLU. He said yes it is against the law. I told him I want to have it stopped. He told me he would not for he was a Christian and he believed there should be school prayer. His statement floored me for it bordered on madness. I said what you believe and what you do for a client is two different things and that you took an oath. He still refused. It did not matter to him that I had already given him $10,000 dollars. He knows we are not rich. So I wrote a letter to him to complain about his refusing to take my daughters civil case where it should have gone from the start. And I asked for my money back. He sent me a bill for another $5000 saying it was the charge for reading my letter and wasting his time.

In my search for a civil attorney it became clear that no one would touch this case. In all of Oklahoma I could not find an attorney. My criminal attorney said he would look at it but only after I paid him his $15000 for the criminal case. He sent me a letter that the funds for the criminal were coming too slow and suggested that I seek other counsel for the civil matter. But even after he got his $15000 he would only take it if I paid him more. (Now that I have won the criminal case he wants on the civil. Suffice to say he is off the civil!)

Eventually I contacted the American Atheist, which was referred to me by Edward Tabash, who was referred to me by a Mr. Robert Tierman. I told them my problem in finding an attorney willing to take church and state case in which the people are blatantly breaking the law. Yet no one will take it. American Atheist, being out of another state, could not refer me to anyone. But they said they would try to help.

The ACLU out of Oklahoma City refused. They sent me some standard letter. It really hurt that I did not even rate a return call or a reason. I felt betrayed, lost and confused. Was this the United States? Where freedom reigns?

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!

The roller coaster of emotions we went through every minute, every day. It was truly a hell. There were days we spoke little. Other days we spoke late into the night. You get to a point you become numb, but it doesn’t last. For it is all aboard and you are on the roller coaster again.

My poor family. They were standing tall. But they would not even be in this place if it were not for me and my bright idea about centralizing our business. We all missed the desert. The free open Mojave Desert. My family did not ask for this. They deserved better. I saw them all suffering. Many a night I would sit in the barn alone with a pint of scotch and look at the high beams and the rope on the wall.

Then out of the blue my wife received a call from Ellen Johnson who said they had a lawyer that can help us, an Edwin Kagin who is their legal director. Well, I called him up, and our civil case is up and running.
Edwin Kagin also by my request came to my criminal case for the two cases are obviously interrelated. There were also other reasons.

Simply stated without Edwin Kagin, Ellen Johnson and American Atheist I would be in jail now, or worse. Without them, we would have no federal case on separation of church and state. The only group, the only lawyer that would stand with my family and me to protect the wall and not cringe at me wanting to put atheism as part of my defense.

In Edwin’s opening statement American Atheist magazine was shown. The crowd almost rioted. He explained that Atheism was not a dirty word and that it was a conclusion. That my family and I are not devil worshippers. We just have no Gods.

It was the basis of the case. It was the danger. It was the truth. Yet the only lawyer to go there freely was Edwin Kagin.

In a world where superstition is the norm and those who seek another path are ridiculed or worse. Being an atheist takes guts. Freedom is never freely given. The good fight is always there.

Oh you can hide yourself in the latest sitcom or have one or two more scotch and waters but the good fight is still there. You can run to your malls and buy yourself crazy with credit card frenzy. But the good fight is still there. You can look away and deny allegiance. But the good fight is still there.
These are the times that try men’s courage. You can debate till you’re blue in the face. It will not change a damn thing.

Our forefathers are on our side in this fight. Trust me. From Adams to Madison to Jefferson and Paine they all knew the dangers of a Theocracy. They wrote the Constitution to assure it. And within the federal courts we can protect this nation from a Theocracy.

The wall between the church and state must stand. But the wall is being battered and cracks now appear. The Christians are at the gate attempting to breach the wall and send us back down the road to an age of darkness, bloodshed and fear.

My family and myself are willing to stand and fight the good fight. If we lose some skin, so be it. We have no more else to give. We are financially done. Thanks to American Atheist, Ellen Johnson and Edwin Kagin for the first time we do not fight alone.

Please stand together with us and fight the good fight. The fight that our forefathers began. Lets make the wall so high between Church and State that they who wish to tear it down will know better and be content with staying in their churches.

For freedom has never been free!

There can be no freedom for all if the wall does not stand.

The wall must stand

Chuck, Nadia, Nicole, Czeslaw and Bridgette Smalkowski


  1. Caledonian says

    Purple prose, grammatical errors, incoherent at times — does it really matter if it’s genuine?

  2. Retired Catholic says

    Marvelous. I hope the civil suit has catastrophic results for the defendants.

  3. polliwog says

    If you click on “this account by Smalkowski”, then click on Printer Friendly Version, the same text that you received in your e-mail appears appended to the main text.

    Grisly story.

  4. Coragyps says

    Wow. Even this little redneck town isn’t quite that bad, I hope.

    It’s a little worrisome that there’s been no mainstream media attention (that I’ve seen…) to this. If it all went down like Smalkowski wrote it above, it deserves some.

  5. Sweettp2063 says

    No matter if the letter is real or not….Chuck, Nadia, Nicole, Czeslaw and Bridgette Smalkowski should all be applauded.

  6. futurelegend says

    There must be something they can do to recoup their legal bills, at least? You cant just falsely accuse people of crimes and run off, right?

  7. Cameron says

    What an outrage. This country is going backwards at top speed; within a few years we’ll be as enlightened as takfiri Sunnis.

  8. says

    Shit like this is why I always cringe whenever a big crowd at a football game goes nuts over singing the “land of the free, home of the brave” bit in the SSB. They say it, but they don’t believe in it. Most of them don’t even want it.

    “It’s a free country,” my left nut.

    America isn’t now a free country, it never has been, and it never will be.

  9. Jayson B. says

    I’ve been looking for somewhere to send donations but I’m running out of luck. I just feel like I need to pay for a portion of those legal bills considering that their fight was my fight, and they shouldn’t take the fat end of the stick.

  10. JamesR says

    Keep these lawyers names readily available if you are a non-believer. It could happen to you. If it did do you have sufficient resources to defend yourself? Can you live in an area of the country without the support of your neighbors? What happens if they turn against you? Without the internet you would NOT have heard of this story. I do not minimalize how terrible the xians can be if they have it in for someone who is not part of their belief system.

    I applaud the courageous efforts of their daughter and of the parents to pursue this to it’s end. I hope they prevail in civil court. Hit the lying sacks of shit where it hurts, in the pocket book.

  11. David Harmon says

    There’s no better home for evil than a church, and no better excuse than “God said so”….

  12. says

    Purple prose, grammatical errors, incoherent at times — does it really matter if it’s genuine?

    Let’s see you write a similarly lengthy piece of prose in an Email without spellcheck, after a two year ordeal where your family’s life was on the line and see if you’re completely focused on a coherent narrative with perfect grammar.

  13. says

    Unbelievable and scary.
    As a athetist Aussie planning a move to Arizona in the next year or so,this story isn’t helping.

  14. says

    Let’s see you write a similarly lengthy piece of prose in an Email without spellcheck, after a two year ordeal where your family’s life was on the line and see if you’re completely focused on a coherent narrative with perfect grammar.

    After a two year ordeal, he should be acclimatized enough to the stress to be able to write proper English. And if not, then his problems are far more severe than some poor grammar and a bit of incoherency in an email.

  15. futurelegend says

    After a two year ordeal, he should be acclimatized enough to the stress to be able to write proper English. And if not, then his problems are far more severe than some poor grammar and a bit of incoherency in an email.

    …. Are you kidding me? You care that much about ‘grammar’? Especially considering the severity of this situation?

    Thats… weird…

  16. NelC says

    You thought the xtians were bad; they are a joke compared to the Lords of Grammar! Compose your prose with care, no matter what the circumstances. No sentence fragment, no misplaced punctuation, no dangling participle shall escape their sight. Guard your writing as you would your very life. Beware! Beware!

  17. says

    Anyone who would like to assist the Smalkowski’s with their legal bills should contact attorney Edwin Kagin ekagin@atheists.org. Kagin, who is National Legal Director for American Atheists worked pro bono on this case, and even travelled to OK on his own dime. This was the first case to anyone’s knowledge where the defendant’s atheism was used as a defense.

    ACLU takes cases they know they can win. Do not expect them to protect your rights.


  18. Elf Eye says

    I’m an English professor, but I must say to those who commented on the writer’s spelling and grammar that I was not aware that passing a literacy test is required before enjoying one’s civil rights in this country! Didn’t that sort of thing go out with the poll tax? Seriously, though, I hope a person need not be perfectly articulate in order to gain a sympathetic hearing for a text that (seemingly) was written as a passionate account of the mistreatment he and his family have received at the hands of both their neighbors and the government that was supposed to protect their rights. Occasion: venting. Audience: non-professional. “Register” (given occasion and audience): informal, probably unrevised and unedited.

  19. says

    wow. it’s so believable that it’s almost unbelievable. doesn’t matter….it’s a scenario we’re bound to see. when the church enters the state as deeply as it has and scheister llawyers who call themselves legitimate just go along with the fray….well, it’s just gotten ridiculous.

    i have a higher power (native indian beliefs). i could give a rat’s ass it others don’t, or if others are christian or buddist or whatever. but the witch hunt has begun, as predicted by hawaiian kahunas i met a few years ago. aetheists, gays, visible minorities, women, look out, we’re all targets. it’s moved up to canada now…the free world? doesn’t exist.

    congrats to the Smalkowski’s and the jury. but man oh man, what a load of crap to go through.

  20. says

    This one says it was edited just this past Friday.

    It all sounds possible. It’s just kinda weird that it’s so hard to find any details AND that the ACLU didn’t take the case.

    Just weird. Phil’s got the right idea, if anyone can find the info. Perhaps asking Charleyski via a reply on the Democratic Underground site. Though he doesn’t ask for anything there.

    (PS: I almost didn’t edit any of my typos before posting! Just for kikks. LOL I just couldn’t NOT do it! {-;)

  21. says

    “This is a place where the children write on their schoolbooks the South will rise again. This is a place where they say that black people caused slavery! Where they burn rock CD’s. Mormons are the tools of Satan. That my daughter is gay cause only homosexuals vote for Kerry and Christians vote for Bush. Atheists worship Satan!”

    Uhhhhhhhhh. It sounds like hell on earth. And scary.

  22. JakeB says

    “Guard your writing as you would your very life. Beware! Beware!”


    Have you seen Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit?
    I can’t help but hear your peroration in the voice of the old vicar.

  23. futurelegend says

    I found this article from another small town 20 miles away from Hardesty. Link

    **shudder** And whats on every page of that newspapers website but a link to their ‘Church Directory.’

  24. says

    Having lived in Oklahoma, I can see this happening. Religion there is like fish for water. It is an assumption, it is the atmosphere, the question that someone may be an atheist there is one that is never even asked. The standard greeting when meeting a co-worker or a new neighbor is more likely to be “What church do y’all go to?”

    I used to get carded for buying cigarettes, invariably people would tell me “You don’t look that old!” Occasionally I would joke that I had sold my soul to the devil for eternal youth. Most of the clerks would turn white and admonish me “Don’t even joke about a thing like that.”

    My brother is a P.I. lawyer in OKC, and I told him he should have gone into First Amendment law, he could have a field day there.

  25. monkeysuncle says

    Message from Atty Edwin Kagin:

    The Smalkowski case attracted national attention after Nicole Smalkowski was kicked off of the girls’ basketball team after refusing to stand in a circle with her teammates on the gymnasium floor of the Hardesty public High School and recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” After school officials learned that she and her family were Atheists, lies
    were created about her as grounds to take her off of the team.

    When her father Chuck discovered conclusively that public school and law enforcement officials had lied to him about his 15 year old daughter, he and Nicole and her mother Nadia went to the home of principal Lloyd Buckley to attempt to discuss the matter with him. Outside of his front fence, the principal struck Chuck, who blocked the blow. Both men fell to the ground and Buckley sustained minor injuries, the provable origins of which were strikingly contrary to
    his under oath trial testimony. Buckley then took out misdemeanor criminal assault charges against Chuck. 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. Chuck called American Atheists for help.

    On June 22, 2006, after only a little over two and a half hours of deliberation, a span of time that included dinner, the jury found Chuck “Not Guilty” of the felony charge of assault and of two lesser included misdemeanor assault charges.

    Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists and his wife Helen drove from Kentucky to Guymon, Oklahoma for the five day trial. Edwin had become registered as an attorney in Oklahoma for the purpose of assisting Tim Gungoll, Chuck’s attorney from Enid, Oklahoma. Mr. Kagin conducted the voir dire of the prospective jury, gave the opening and closing statements in the case, cross examined
    the Superintendent of the Hardesty public schools, David Davidson, and conducted the direct examination of the defendant Chuck Smalkowski. Tim cross examined the other prosecution witnesses and conducted the direct examination of Nicole and Nadia Smalkowski.

    The Atheist and Christian attorneys worked together effectively for the cause of justice and to vindicate an Atheist falsely accused.

    The true significance of this trial is that this is the first case we know of in American jurisprudence where Atheism has been directly used in as a defense in a criminal trial.

    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.

    Edwin also told the prospective jurors that his co-counsel Tim Gungoll believed Jesus Christ to be his personal savior and that Tim was a practicing Roman Catholic who asked if the jury might feel him a hypocrite to his faith for defending Chuck. Ultimately a jury of twelve was seated who had sworn that they could believe the testimony of an Atheist over that of a Christian.

    In closing argument, Edwin told the jury that it really should not be necessary for an Atheist to tell them it is wrong to lie under oath, as he reminded them the Christian school officials and the police had done in their sworn trial testimony. “Thou shall not bare false witness against thy neighbor. Ninth Commandment. Eight if you are Roman Catholic,” Kagin said.

    The jury believed the Atheists. Unanimously.

    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.

    A civil lawsuit in Federal Court, with the Smalkowski Family and American Atheists as Plaintiffs, is contemplated.

  26. Ruhgozler says

    This would make a marvelous novel. Seriously. If he could find a good author it would definitely hit the best seller list.

  27. Uber says

    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.

    I get they where honest, but is such a thing really to their credit? It simply makes them seem bigoted to this reader.

  28. kmarissa says

    Read in the best possible light, it is to their credit in that they realized they could not be fair to the defendant, but knew (apparently) that the defendant still deserved to be treated fairly despite his lack of religious views.

    But yes, they are bigoted.

  29. Chris says

    Well, I guess it’s better than if they had been bigoted *and* dishonest (like the prosecution witnesses; anyone want to bet on whether or not they’re charged with perjury?).

    Still, it seems a little like being the death camp guard that didn’t personally shoot any Jews. Better? I guess. Good, or even okay? No way.

    I agree with Ruhgozler, too – I wonder if Grisham is busy. Whether or not you’re a fan, with his name on the cover it would almost certainly hit the best seller list and thereby reach a lot of people. Possibly even inducing thought in a few of them. And then a fair number of Grisham books get made into movies… a movie would be even better, I think, since the audience will *see* the attacks on Smalkowski and his family, not just have them described.

    This is going to offend a lot of people’s sense of justice, whether they’re Christian or not. If they become aware of it. I think it could go a considerable way toward marginalizing these bigots and hatemongers.

  30. Millimeter Wave says

    oh, hello Jason. Wondered where you were. Would you mind explaining that last comment a little?

  31. Uber says

    You know Jason you are as ridiculous a troll as I have ever seen.

    Looks to me like extreme irreligious fanaticism is just as bad as extreme religious fanaticism.

    How you can read this tragic story of aggressive and punishing behaviour perpetuated on an innocent family and only come up with that weak rhetoric shows me you don’t care a whit about honesty, integrity or truth. Just defending an ideology despite any event. And this scenario is pretty bad.

    So where exactly in this story is cause for you to justify the ‘extreme irreligious fanaticism’ comment? Please link to another story about Christians being assaulted in similiar ways.


    I read it in the best possible light. It’s just odd isn’t it?

  32. says

    Jason: “After the violence was over, the atheist had a broken nose, and the christian had a broken knuckle. They were obviously equally violent.” :-P

  33. G. Tingey says

    This is really scary, and completely unsurprising.

    Yet, would you believe, that (On another group) I get slagged off for being rude about religion?

    How long to Gilead?
    Any offers?

  34. monkeysuncle says

    >>>Looks to me like extreme irreligious fanaticism is just as bad as extreme religious fanaticism.<<< That might be true if "extreme irreligious fanaticism" was part of this story. There certainly is none here--just a guy trying to raise his family and a few goats out in the OK panhandle. How long to Gilead indeed. -Z

  35. says

    It was a very unfortunate situation for the Smalkowski’s. It should have never happened.

    Unfortunately, just because someone claims to be a Christian…doesn’t mean they are. It’s all in their actions. And the so called “Christian”, obviously need to read their bibles. Their actions are showing how un-Christian they actually are.

    A Christian is supposed to love their neighbours. Yes, I am a Christian and I also believe in respecting someone elses beliefs. I don’t beleive in pushing my beliefs on someone..because I don’t like it when someone else trys to push their beliefs on me.

    I just wish the world everyone could get along, whether they are Jewish, Hindu, Buddisht, Christian, Atheist or Muslim.

    It’s sad that people are so close minded, hate and are afraid of what they don’t understand.

  36. Paul W. says


    A big problem with your position is that many of the worst Christians do in fact read their Bibles—they do understand many things that the Bible clearly says and clearly means—and they do in fact find justifications for their actions there.

    The Bible condones things like slavery, intolerance, wars of conqest, and genocide, in many places. It’s an inconsistent mismash of myths and screeds, which can be used to justify pretty much anything, including the grossest of evils.

    For example, even in the New Testament, slavery is discussed but never condemned. (One of Paul’s letters is to a slaveowner, to whom he is returning an escaped slave; he suggests leniency, but never says that slavery is wrong or that the owner has no right to punish the slave.)

    In many places, the specifically Christian New Testament is a moral improvement over the bronze-age barbarism of the most ancient Hebrew scriptures. But then it turns around and says that people like me deserve and will receive infinite torture for an honest difference of opinion. Go figure.

    The most central tenets of orthodox Christianity are utterly barbaric—e.g., that the only thing that can save us from deserving eternal torture is that the Sky-God sacrificed his own innocent son, who is also himself, for our sins.

    That makes no sense. Whether I deserve to be tortured forever should not depend on what others did thousands of years ago, or on a barbaric sacrifice by a God to a God, or on a well-meant difference of opinion. That’s just profoundly insane, and it shouldn’t be surprising if some people who accept such things often lack good moral judgement.

    Unfortunately, the god of the Bible is nasty, incredibly petty and vindictive as well as “loving” and “just.” You shouldn’t be surprised by barbarism from worshippers of a fundamentally barbaric god who engages in child sacrifice and infinite torture.

    It should not be surprising if some people are especially nutty because they do read their Bibles and take them seriously when they read things about stoning gays, killing infidels, subjugating women, etc.

  37. Torbjörn Larsson says

    “Looks to me like extreme irreligious fanaticism is just as bad as extreme religious fanaticism.”

    Figures that Jason turns out to not be merely a passive observer but an active defender of crime, abuse, discrimination, and lying for a faith.

  38. says


    I must say I completely disagree with you.

    You have to take the bible as a whole and not bits and pieces. The message is one of love, not hate.

    But we’re all entitled to our own opinions. You won’t change my mind and I won’t change yours.

  39. Chance says


    just because someone claims to be a Christian…doesn’t mean they are. It’s all in their actions. And the so called “Christian”, obviously need to read their bibles

    Although I may agree with you in principle in reality this is the ‘One true Scotsman’ fallacy. All members of a group always say so and so where not a real so and so but I am.

    You have to take the bible as a whole and not bits and pieces. The message is one of love, not hate

    Again I sorta agree, but again I think there are plenty examples of both in there. It’s really hard to say it’s all anout love unless you omit the parts about war, killing an entire planet, sacrifice and other dastardly things. But yes there is love there also.

    You won’t change my mind and I won’t change yours.

    So essentially your close minded? Thats ok but just say that.

  40. ninewands says

    You have just given us the most perfect example of the “No True Scotsman” argument I think I have ever seen. The fact of the matter is that the people in Hardesty, OK self-identify as Christians, therefore they ARE Christians. Whether you agree or disagree with the theological implications of their self-identification is irrelevant.

    That being said, the dispute in Hardesty has nothing at all to do with religion. It has to do with the mostly under-educated population of a small town, who live in abject fear of social progress because they don’t think they can “keep up,” trying to enforce conformity with the social mores of the nearly-unanimous majority that was born there, raised there, was educated there (through the local substandard high school in the best case), and who fervently want to live their entire lives there and die there and have the town be the same as it was in their childhood. To these people a pluralistic world is the most terrifying thing they can contemplate. It’s sad, but “them’s the facts.”

    I lived in Amarillo, TX (in the Texas panhandle, not far from Guymon) for about four years back in the 1980’s. I’m surprised this sort of thing hasn’t happened before now … but maybe it has and the victim lacked the courage of his convictions that Chester has.

  41. Paul W. says

    I must say I completely disagree with you.

    And I must say that if you completely disagree with me, you must either be woefully ignorant of what the Bible actually says, or just crazy.

    You have to take the bible as a whole and not bits and pieces.

    I’ve read the whole Bible, most of it more than once. I’ve also read a variety of books on the Bible—history, archaeology, theology, etc.

    I’m not just talking about bits and pieces, out of context. I’m talking about fundamental tenets, major themes, etc., from Genesis to Revelation, and what the Bible itself says are crucially important events.

    That’s the dirty secret of the Bible. The worst parts are not mistranslations or misinterpretations. It’s pretty clear what they mean, that they mean those things quite seriously, and that they are reprehensible. The Bible has a lot of scary, creepy stuff in it, and the people who wrote those parts really were scary, creepy, backward people.

    It’s not a good book by a single author, or divinely inspired by a loving god. It’s a mess, on every level.

    The message is one of love, not hate.

    You are seriously mistaken. There is no consistent “the message” of the Bible. (Except maybe “hooray for our side.”) It’s an inconsistent bunch of myths, screeds, etc. Some of them are nice. Many are not.

    I like the “love thy neighbor” bit. I don’t like it being backed with a threat of infinite torture from a guy who committed genocide himself and commanded others to do likewise. (Remember the flood, where God exterminated most of humanity, on purpose? Remember the conquest of the Holy Land, where his chosen people exterminated the inhabitants of Canaan, massacreing everyone in 31 cities? Remember the firstborn Egyptian babies?)

    Love isn’t about killing or enslaving foreigners.

    Love isn’t about punishing innocent people for the actions of others.

    Love isn’t about killing your child so that you can forgive somebody else.

    Love isn’t about torturing people forever if they don’t happen to find these kinds of stories believable.

    If you think the overall message there is love, you don’t understand love, and I pity you.

    But we’re all entitled to our own opinions. You won’t change my mind and I won’t change yours.

    How open-minded of you.

  42. Craig says

    And the so called “Christian”, obviously need to read their bibles.

    Don’t mean to pick on you Tammy, well-meaning as you are, etc., but I have to respond to this.
    Even people who have “faith” have said to me that faith is not something based on logic or reason. “You can’t look for it to make sense or look for evidence, you just have to have faith.”

    But when people willingly decide to eschew logic and reason, how can we be surprised when their resulting actions are crazy? Almost nobody decides to be a bad person. Most horrors have been committed by people or groups doing “the right thing” or “God’s work.”

    And they can look in their bibles and find plenty of justification…

    Leviticus 20:9
    If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

    20:10 If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

    20:13 If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death.

    Deuteronomy 22:20-1 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house.

    Deuteronomy 7:1-2 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations . . . then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

    20:10-17 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. . . . This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
    However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them–the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites–as the Lord your God has commanded you.

    Ezekiel 20:25-26 I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts–the sacrifice of every firstborn–that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.

    Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
    Exodus 21:20-21 If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
    1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.
    2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

    Leviticus 25:44-45
    Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.

    Now, you can go through the bible and pick ouit some nice things too… problem is, people see what they want.
    And seeing it as a whole? Well, seeing it as a whole the only logical conclusion you can come to is that it is a wildly self-contradictory mishmash of superstition, excuse of and even encouragement of barbarism, and a bit of common sense, written thousands of years ago by a bunch of ignorant control freaks.

  43. says

    My name is Chuck Smalkowski. I wrote “Just another Salem ” .
    I am sorry for my lack of knowledge when it comes to a politically correct writing style. If you understood what I was trying to say, then my goal was met. To those who are more concerned about my grammar than what I am writing about, all I can say is simply do yourself a favor and do not read the book.
    What I wrote was just the tip of what went on and is still going on. Just last week my daughter and myself received threatening E-mail.
    Even though I was found not guilty there is the matter of a bogus protective order that by all legal advise is not valid. I have contested it and summitted all the correct paper work to have it dissolved and am awaiting the outcome. In the meanwhile, Texas county has gone around my appeal and has intercepted and taken my State tax refund to pay for the court costs. You must understand that since this began our family has been vilified in the local press(TV,radio, and paper). Yet, nothing about my vindication was mentioned even though we personally notified them all. If it was not for the internet no one would know.
    There is so much to tell, but I am also a musician and part of a band which includes my daughter Nicole and my son Czeslaw. Much time has been lost due to this madness and I am not getting any younger. There is much music to write.
    We are in the process of mixing down a live album and also putting down studio tracks for our third and fourth albums. No,we are not some kiddie band so feel free to listen to us at http://www.BlueRoseRocket.com or just type in our band name “Blue Rose Rocket” at Rhapsody.
    We play friday nites at a place just north of the Texas border. It is a place with lots of Harleys, tatoos, and leathers. It is the safest place around for us.
    Oh! by the way, once you pass into Texas, it is illegal to sell beer for hundreds of miles. There are private clubs that you pay a membership fee, that’s where the ministers go. Praise the Lord!
    On a serious note, I personally wish to thank each and everyone of you for writing into Pharyngula.
    A few points I would like to clarify is that my daughter in 2004 was kicked off the basketball team for not becoming part of a prayer circle and saying the Lords prayer on the basketball courts during a School sanctioned game. Exactly a year later she was suspended from school for refusing again and this time saying the Pledge while omitting the cold war madness of the “Under God” insertion. Here is a link to this event on video:


    Nicole and my son Czeslaw have not been to school since. Not only have I kept them out due to threats made by the then Principal’s son( they have moved away), but also the school demanding that Nicole must see a school therapist every week or she would not be allowed back.
    These people know they are breaking the law of the land yet will continue to do so while your tax dollars fund their madness and school indoctrination that this is a christian country. The History curriculum at Hardesty school teaches that the bible is historic fact! As Christians you must vote Republican. I could go on but I will leave that for the book.
    Look, we must agree to diagree, but I do not take kindly to our tax dollars being use to warp young minds and harm others.
    This little prayer is done at every public school where Hardesty has a Basketball game.
    One other thing, Nicole was on the High school football team also. She was a running back and she played in every game! Is it odd that not even one rumor has ever been started by any of the boys? The school did try.
    What is it with teenage girls, christianity and pure wickedness? Like I said, “Just another Salem”.