Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Madalyn Murray O'Hair (April 13, 1919 – September 29, 1995) was an American atheist activist; a founder of the American Atheists and its president from 1963 to 1986. She created the first issues of American Atheist Magazine. She is best known for the Murray v. Curlett lawsuit, which led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling ending official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963.
O'Hair filed a lawsuit with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in regard to the Apollo 8 Genesis reading. The case was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court for lack of jurisdiction. The effects of the suit were varied: although NASA asked Buzz Aldrin to refrain from quoting the Bible in the Apollo 11 mission, he was allowed to conduct the first Communion service in space.
She filed several lawsuits on issues over which she felt that the United States Constitution was violated by a collusion of church and state. One was against the city of Baltimore, demanding that it assess and collect taxes on property owned by the Catholic Church.
O'Hair founded an atheist radio program in which she criticized religion and theism, and a television show she hosted, American Atheist Forum, was carried on more than 140 cable television systems.
Her son William J. Murray became a Christian in 1980. Learning of this, she commented: "One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times ... he is beyond human forgiveness."
O'Hair remained a polarizing figure into the 1980s. She served as "chief speechwriter" for Larry Flynt's 1984 presidential campaign, and continued to be a regular talk show guest. Jon Murray succeeded her as leader of the American Atheists; he was not liked by many in the organization, and various chapters seceded from the main group. In 1991, the remaining local/state chapters were dissolved.
In 1995 she was kidnapped, murdered and mutilated along with her son Jon Murray and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair, by the former American Atheist office manager David Roland Waters.