Jail official fired for anti-Muslim comments says he’s the victim of discrimination

By: - June 28, 2022 3:09 pm

Dean Naylor, fired from his job as Muscatine County jail administrator for anti-Muslim and anti-gay writings, is suing the county. (Screen shot from Nayor video posted on Youtube)

A former Muscatine County jail administrator who was fired over his anti-Muslim and anti-gay writings is now suing the county, alleging he is the victim of discrimination.

The federal lawsuit filed by former jail administrator Dean Naylor alleges that when Muscatine County fired him two years ago for his published comments pertaining to gays and Muslims, it violated his First Amendment rights related to religious expression, free speech and – in light of his use of social media to voice his beliefs – freedom of the press. He is suing the county for employment discrimination and the deprivation of his civil rights.

The county has yet to file a response to the lawsuit. An assistant to Muscatine County Attorney James Barry said Tuesday that Barry had no comment on the matter.

In April 2020, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that Naylor, then the Muscatine County jail administrator and a captain with the sheriff’s department, had published online a lengthy treatise in which he called Muslims “pawns of the devil.” The story noted that Naylor had also created and posted seven related YouTube videos.

In his written treatise, Naylor described “the gay lifestyle” as an abomination and denounced court rulings that led to the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses and government buildings. He also predicted a global conflict that would pit Muslims, led by Satan, against Christians and result in the death of 2 billion people.

All of the content was produced five to six years prior to the publication of the Capital Dispatch story, but remained publicly accessible online.

At the time Naylor’s writings were reported, C.J. Ryan, then the county sheriff, said his only concern was “the actions of my employees, not their personal beliefs.”

Within days, however, officials in Johnson County — which uses the Muscatine County Jail to house some of its inmates — were threatening to cancel their contract with the jail over Naylor’s “hateful” commentary. That contract provided Muscatine County with $657,000 in annual revenue. Naylor was fired three weeks after the Capital Dispatch story was published.

Now, in a newly filed federal lawsuit, Naylor is suing the county for unspecified damages caused by its alleged violation of his rights.

Naylor: I ‘never discriminated’ against anyone

In the lawsuit, Naylor claims he is a born-again Christian with a devout, biblically based faith. He says that while employed by the county over the course of 10 years, he never received a negative work review and was never subject to any sort of discipline.

That changed, the lawsuit alleges, in April 2020, after news outlets “selectively quoted inflammatory snippets” from Naylor’s posts “in order to sensationalize and criticize” what he calls his “biblically based views on marriage, sexuality, salvation, and the Christianity faith.”

The lawsuit argues that even to the extent that Naylor’s “comments may be controversial — at least to those who do not share his religious beliefs — (he) had the constitutional right to publish and share them as a private citizen.”

In the lawsuit, Naylor alleges that he “believes that sharing the gospel requires sharing even those biblical teachings that are highly controversial or even offensive” to others such as the belief “that homosexual conduct is sinful” and that “those who practice faiths other than Christianity — including Islam — are doomed to hell for eternity.”

However, the lawsuit argues, Naylor also “sincerely believes that the Bible condemns hatred of, and prejudice against, people,” and so he always “treated both colleagues and inmates with appropriate respect for their religious beliefs and practices” and never discriminated against anyone.

As for his published treatise and YouTube videos, the lawsuit states that they included no information regarding his city, county, state, or his occupation or employer. Because of that, Muscatine County remained unaware of his religious views until they became the focus of news reports.

The lawsuit notes on April 23, 2020, less than two weeks after the original article was published by the Capital Dispatch, the county placed Naylor on administrative leave, citing allegations that he had made derogatory comments regarding Muslims and homosexuals.

The county’s subsequent disciplinary investigation “focused on the article which had brought (Naylor’s) religious beliefs into question,” the lawsuit states.

‘We need to start preparing for war’

The county’s written conclusions, published as part of the lawsuit, included a finding that “the public, along with the employees and the inmates which Captain Naylor oversees, now have a perception that individuals may be discriminated against due to their religious beliefs or lifestyle. Some members of the population believe that perception is reality.”

The county concluded that this perception could add to the county’s legal liabilities should an inmate want to sue the jail and could also have “a substantial financial impact on Muscatine County.”

On May 1, 2020, Naylor was fired. He then filed a formal charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, alleging the county had fired him on the basis of his religious beliefs. On March 21 of this year, the EEOC issued Naylor a notice affirming his right to file a lawsuit on that basis.

Since his termination, Naylor alleges, he applied for many jobs in law enforcement and corrections work but remained unemployed until accepting a job with the U.S. Postal Service last fall.

By firing him “for his religious beliefs about non-believers, salvation through Jesus Christ, same-sex marriage, and homosexual conduct, (the county has) acted arbitrarily to decide what religious beliefs are permitted and what religious beliefs are proscribed,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Muscatine County Jail, which has roughly 250 beds and houses inmates for other eastern Iowa counties and for the federal government, frequently houses Muslim inmates, some of whom have complained of discrimination.

In a federal lawsuit filed in 2013, seven months before Naylor posted his written condemnation of Muslims, a Muslim inmate sued Naylor in federal court, claiming the jail administrator had ignored his request for a copy of the Quran, the central religious text of Islam. The case was tossed out of court after the inmate failed to respond to the county’s motion to dismiss.

In his 11,500-word treatise entitled “End Times — We Are Here!!,” Naylor characterized Muslims as “the beast” that would set out to kill all Christians and Jews just before the rapture occurs. He wrote that “people following the Muslim faith are nothing more than pawns to the devil … Islam has 2 billion followers, they hate Jews and Christians (and) they can have a 200-million-man army … Our fellow servants will turn on us and rat us out to the Satanically led Muslims.”

Naylor also warned that “very soon Christians will be faced with a world that is hunting them worldwide and they will not be able to participate in the economy.”

In one of his videos, Naylor urged viewers to “buckle up” and prepare for a war that will take place between 2016 and 2023 and will kill one-third of mankind.

“The beast is coming, all right? Whether you want to wake up to it or not, he’s coming. Our time is nearing the end,” Naylor said in the video. “Wake up. We need to start preparing for war — spiritual war and physical war.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.