Atheism in contemporary society

Madalyn Murray O'Hair: American Atheist Inc.
Why I am an Atheist
(Society of Separationists: Austin TX 1966)

My name is Madalyn Murray O'Hair. I am an Atheist.

I am a bit more than that--an Atheist. I am in fact, the Atheist.
The Atheist who made Americans stop to take a little stock their accepted values. For, I am the Atheist who fought a battle right up to and through the Supreme Court of the United States in order have bible reading and prayer recitation, as a religious ceremony, removed from the public schools in all fifty states of our Union. ...

All right, perhaps I will tell you how I got that way. But first, what way did I get? Let's make it plain right from the start what an Atheist is or what an Atheist is not.

First I am not an agnostic, nor a rationalist, nor a realist, nor secularist, nor humanist, nor any other fancy name behind which people must hide in order to be safe in our society. And, isn't it an indictment against our society that we who do not believe--we non-believers of all stripes--must hide behind certain names since reprisals and sanctions would be put into effect against us if we said what we really believe?

... Well, I am neither afraid or ashamed to say what I believe or what I think. I am an Atheist and this means at least that I do not believe there is a God or any God, personal or in nature or manifesting himself or itself in any way. I do not believe there is such a thing as heaven or hell or perdition or any of the stages in between. I do not believe there is any life after death. I do not believe in miracles. I do not believe in angels. I do not believe in Prophets and I do not accept any holy book of any kind be they the Bible, the Torah, the Veda, the Koran, the Upanishads, or anything else in any age in the history of man.

I do not believe in saviors and this includes any so-called saviors from Moses to Jesus Christ, or Mohammed, or his daughter Fatima, or the popes or any oracles, self appointed or appointed by other persons. I do not believe in the efficacy of prayers said either by myself or a priest, a rabbi or a minister.

... We went to a court of this land and for the first time in the history of the United States we said in court and in our legal brief that we objected to bible reading and prayer recitation because we were Atheists. ... Our attorney said to me "O.K. Madalyn, if you want to base your suit on this and this alone, then you can write up a little blurb about what an Atheist is and I'll put it into the suit." So, I did and he did and this is it.

For the first time in any law books, in any history books, you can go and read it for yourself. It is in the records of the Baltimore, Maryland, Superior Court in the case of William J. Murray III vs John N. Curlett. William Murray III is my oldest son and John N. Curlett is the President of the Board of School Commissioners of Baltimore City. The case was filed in December 1960 and it reached the United States Supreme Court for argument in February 1963. The statement to which I refer says, and you'll understand this despite the legal terminology here and there:

Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An Atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An Atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now--here on earth for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction, and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it, and enjoy it. An Atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment. He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated. ...

... Materialism is a word which has been corrupted by it opponents--the religious people--for thousands of years. In ancient Greece the reactionary aristocrats destroyed the works of materialist philosopher, Democritus, who rejected divine intervention in nature and in human affairs. Another materialist philosopher, Anaxagoras, was banished from Athens as an Atheist. The ancient Greece philosopher, Epicurus, a disciple of Democritus and revered by the ancients for having liberated man from fear of a god and for asserting the validity of science, was for 2000 years anathematized by leaders of the church who falsely depicted him as an enemy of morality and a disseminator of vice. The advocates of idealism, or idea-ism as I like to think of it, sought to slander materialism, to equate it with pure hedonism anc and a selfish, purposeless way of life which caters only to gluttony and wasteful living with no respect for nature, material resources, or other forms of life, animal or plant.

... Materialism is the philosophy of life according to rational processes. ... Materialists, and we call ourselves Atheists, do not believe in the divinity of man. And because of this we shy away from systems of thought which exalt the human animal. We are embarrassingly aware that we are most insignificant. We are more insignificant than the seas or the wind or our planet alone. Man must share the earth with all other animals. And, we are animals.

and re. the present whereabouts of Madalyn Murray O'Hair ...

Date: Mon, 8 Jul 96 04:38 EDT
From: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
Subject: Murray O'Hair Disappearance Still Fuels Questions, Speculation

nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#84 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/3/96

In This Edition ...
* Murray O'Hair Disappearance Still Fuels Questions, Speculation ...

A Los Angeles Times Story Keeps the Question Alive

It has been nearly nine months since Madalyn Murray O'Hair, dubbed by some "the most hated woman in America," disappeared from the Austin offices of American Atheists along with her son, John Garth Murray, and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair. No one affiliated with the organization seems to know what exactly happened: and in the subsequent months, there has been a flurry of newspaper articles and televisions reports dealing with the fate of the three individuals who operated the American Atheists movement.

Today's Los Angeles Times keeps the question of the O'Hair's fate in the public consciousness, with a National Perspectives/Update story by writer Jesse Katz.

Unfortunately, there isn't much new in the current Times piece. The information seems recycled from earlier stories, and deals with the usual speculation about what might have happened to the Murray O'Hair family.

* Madalyn Murray O'Hair was seriously ill, about to die, and didn't want religionists claiming that she made a last-minute "deathbed conversion" to "dedicate herself to Christ." If she has indeed died, this doesn't explain why Jon Murray and Robin Murray O'Hair disappeared, especially after informing an employee, Spike Tyson, that they would return shortly to conduct business. Ellen Johnson, now President of American Atheists, and Conrad Goeringer (Your Humble and Beleaguered Correspondent) both talked to the O'Hairs, including Madalyn O'Hair following their initial departure from the Atheist center.

* Former employee David Travis suggests that the O'Hairs covertly funneled assets into overseas accounts, "including a New Zealand fund with nearly $1,000,000." This is a variation of the "take the money and split" scenario. There was nothing covert about at least one foreign bank account, though, a trust fund which was listed as the property of an overt atheist corporation. Why place it overseas? Many companies do this when the market can earn them higher rates of return. If there is any truth to hidden bank accounts bulging with ill-gained dollars, we haven't seen anything concrete. If anything, records suggest that for years the O'Hairs transfused the organization with their own money gained from speaking fees and other royalties, and often did not draw full paychecks. According to Ellen Johnson and Spike Tyson, the bank accounts of the organization were left untouched, and Jon Murray even sent employees final checks.

* "Foul Play" is still considered a possibility by some. There was no evidence of a struggle in either the AA offices or at the O'Hair's house; there were indications, though, that they left in a hurry, on unspecified business, and apparently expected to return shortly. Mr. Tyson told AANEWS that he had heard that they kept an overnight-type bag packed for quick business trips such as conferences and media appearances. No such bags were found, which could suggest that the O'Hairs expected to gone only for a few days. Clothes and other personal items were left behind.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the O'Hair case is that with all of the attention, the news media -- which supposedly can penetrate the most sacrosanct places of Michael Jackson's estate, or the mystical environs of the White House roof -- can't locate the missing trio. It is also interesting that theories seeking to explain the disappearance (such as the "take the money and split scenario) are based on hunches, speculation, and precious little verifiable evidence. So far, the fate of the woman who helped boot bible reading and prayer recitation out of the public schools, and the rest of her family, remains a mystery.

Of course there ARE those alien abductors...


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