71-year-old Guantanimo detainee released

Man kicked off plane because his t-shirt had Arabic on it

And finally, the kicker. Read this, and be very afraid.



American Atheists filed suit in federal court Friday in a case nvolving charges of “prayer bullying” and conspiracy to violate the civil rights of an Atheist family.

In November, 2004, Nadia Smalkowski — a student at Hardesty Oklahoma High School and member of the female basketball squad — was ordered by her coach to participate in a game-time recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer.” Ms. Smalkowski, an Atheist, refused and was then banished to the locker room. Days later, following a meeting of school officials,
she was punished by being removed from the team.

The suit charges that Nadia and the rest of her family were then made the victims of false accusations and “subjected to public humiliation and distress.” Her father, Chester Smalkowski, tried to meet with the School Principal who “struck Plaintiff Chester Smalkowski repeatedly without warning or provocation.” Incredibly, a warrant was filed against Mr. Smalkowski who was arrested and scheduled for trial. Officials with the District Attorney’s Office in Texas County, Oklahoma then offered a deal where charges would be dropped if the Smalkowski family agreed to leave the jurisdiction.

He refused the buckle under to the intimidation.

Represented by attorneys Tom Gungoll and American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin, Smalkowski endured a five-day trial that included a grilling of the school district superintendent. Mr. Kagin patiently explained to the jurors what Atheism was. Many of the prospective jurors opined that they could not believe the word of an
Atheist over that of a god-fearing Christian, and were struck for cause. Some, including the wives of two local ministers, admitted that they were incapable of being fair to an Atheist in such a situation.

Attorney Tim Gungoll told the jury panel that he was a Roman Catholic, but that the facts of the case — not the religion of any of the parties — were of primary importance.

Chester Smalkowski was acquitted unanimously.

The federal suit, filed Friday in US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma names a battery of defendants including school officials, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department, County officers and the Town of Hardesty, Oklahoma. It charges that the family’s constitutional rights were violated under, but not limited to, the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. It also charges that school officials “unlawfully and unconstitutionally met in conspiracy to violate (the) Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights.”

In addition, it is charged that members of the District Attorney’s staff “conspired … to punish Plaintiff Chester Smalkowski for his religious views by prosecuting a criminal case against him” that they knew “to be grounded on false statements and perjury.”

The suit notes that a year after the first incident involving Ms. Smalkowski, she once again tried to participate in the girl’s basketball team. Again, Coach Ernest Cook “attempted to force Plaintiff N.S. to recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” Ms Smalkowski instead “chose to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.” This time, the suit charges, Nadia Smalkowski was punished by school officials who falsely accused her of “threatening another student.” She was suspended “without a Due Process hearing or notice, as is required by Oklahoma Statutes.” Eventually, she was suspended and denied her statutory right to a hearing.

A school board member and her husband, a Texas County Deputy Sheriff are identified and charged in the lawsuit as conspirators who “attempted to hire, coerce, or otherwise convince, for payment of money or other consideration on school property, one Jerry Kelly to inflict personal harm on Plaintiff Chester Smalkowski in retaliation for his religious opinions and in further retaliation for Plaintiff Chester Smalkowski’s attempt to defend his daughter and family against the false and malicious allegations…”

Another charge focuses on a Deputy Sheriff who ostensibly ordered the submission of falsified policy reports and attempting under false pretext to have Mr. Smalkowski re-arrested. Other allegations listed include:

  • Attempts to coerce the bail bondsman to withhold bail without charges.
  • Improper meetings and private conferences involving local officials.
  • Efforts to coerce the filing of a “groundless restraining order” against Mr. Smalkowski.
  • Efforts to obtain false statements from students “in order to create a false cause for arrest.”
  • Harassment
  • Efforts to coerce the giving of false testimony.

For more information:

(American Atheists Press Release on Smalkowski suit)

“Just Another Salem,” opinion piece by Chester Smalkowski”

(^^^ It looks like the townies killed their dog as well.)

(“Smalkowski acquitted on all counts in criminal trial,” 6-26-06)