godless radical

Photo of the Day

WASHINGTON DC–Feb 27, 1963–Mrs. Madalyn E. Murray, and her sons, William J. Murray III, 16 (center), and Garth Murray, 8, are shown as they left the Supreme Court. The High Court began hearing arguments today on Mrs. Murray’s attempt to get a court order discontinuing the use of the Lord’s Prayer and the reading of the Bible in Baltimore schools. William, who is being raised as an atheist, attends one the of the schools. MANDATORY CREDIT: UPI/CORBIS-BETTMANN

“The Most Hated Woman in America”

Madalyn Murray O’Hair took on the Supreme Court to get prayer out of schools, started a culture war, and was murdered for it

“There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground, the worms eat you.”

— Madalyn Murray O’Hair

When atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, her son, and granddaughter mysteriously disappeared from their Austin, Tex., home the police didn’t lift a finger to find the family that had taken God out of America. Five years went by before a determined reporter would unravel the mystery of her disappearance. From 1995 to 2003, this incredible tale of kidnapping, extortion, murder, double-crossing and dismemberment played out in Central and South Texas.

In 1995, O’Hair, her son Jon, and her granddaughter Robin disappeared from Austin, Texas; they had been kidnapped, murdered, and mutilated by David Roland Waters, a convicted felon out on parole, fellow career criminal Gary Karr and a third man, Danny Fry. Waters had been an employee of the American Atheists from February 1993 to April 1994, first as a typesetter and later as office manager.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair had not made history in a long time. In fact, the godless radical—who took great, tedious pleasure in calling herself “the most hated woman in America”—had fallen far off the cultural and political radar screen since her cantankerous heyday in the sixties, when she had picked noisy fights with the system: helping to push prayer out of the public schools, trying to get “In God We Trust” taken off coins, suing the pope. It was a measure of the hollowness of her life that few people noticed when the 76-year-old disappeared in September 1995 along with son Jon, 40, and granddaughter Robin, 30; when the authorities were finally notified, people seemed glad to see her go.

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