The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Rosenbaum, Stuart, Journal of Church and State
The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair. By Bryan F. Le Beau. New York: New York University Press, 2003. 386 pp. np.
On 17 June 1963, the United States Supreme court delivered its joint decision on two similar cases challenging the constitutionality of prayer in public schools. The cases were Willliam J. Murray III v. Baltimore School Board, or Murray v. Curtlett, and Abington Township v. Schempp. The Court's 8-1 decision established the unconstitutionality of prayer in the public schools. The Maryland case, the Murray case, has been generally remembered as the one responsible for removing prayer from the public schools.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair was the mother of William J. Murray III. Neither she nor William, age 14, found tolerable William's involuntary exposure to the ritual of morning prayer in his public school. O'Hair's outspoken and adamant opposition to the involuntary imposition of Christian belief or practice in public schools brought her notoriety that she leveraged into a life work of opposition to religious belief. She proclaimed herself to be, and was known in popular culture as, the atheist-not an atheist; the atheist.
In addition to her adamant opposition to religious belief, O'Hair was committed to two additional unpopular causes. She was exquisitely attuned to any illicit entanglement of church and state, and sought to challenge in the courts any practice she found in violation of this constitutionally required separation. In addition-though it is not strictly speaking a separate issue-she objected to churches' exemption from taxation. These issues of religious belief and separation of church and state were O'Hair's life work.
Le Beau has captured well the historical context surrounding …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Contributors: Rosenbaum, Stuart - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 45. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2003. Page number: 830+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.