When I was active in organized atheism, the most visible atheist in America was a lady named Madalyn Murray. She started battling organized religion in the 1930s and was best known for her successful challenge to prayer in public schools. She married a U.S. Marine in 1965 and took the name Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Because of her work, she became known as the most hated woman in America.
As a young atheist, I was inspired by her debating skills, and I used her posters and many of her arguments in my atheist activities. Her business manager eventually murdered her. After she died, all kinds of stories surfaced about her activities. Robert Liston had several interviews with her, and some of her comments as he reveals them are interesting. Here are a few:
“I am more interested in having a good fight than I am in the separation of church and state.”
“I don’t really care that much about atheism. I’m not well-read in philosophy and theology. I’ve always been more interested in politics and social reform.”
“I love a good fight. I’ve always been like this all my life – and I’ve always won. I guess fighting God and God’s spokesmen is sort of the ultimate, isn’t it?”
The more you listen to her comments, the more you realize her primary motivation was not to destroy the abuses of religion and preserve the constitution of the United States. She seemed to enjoy being the most hated woman in America. Liston mentions that she once stated her intention of “carving out a job for myself.” The man who murdered Madalyn had embezzled quite a bit of money from her, so she must have done well at her job.
One of the reasons that all of our materials are free is that we don’t want to allow anyone to impugn our motives in doing this ministry. Contrary to what Madalyn and other atheists have said, there are a few of us who believe in God for reasons other than fleecing a lot of believers out of their savings.
— John N. Clayton © 2019
Reference: Saturday Evening Post, July/August 2019, page 96.