Netflix has released a docudrama on the founder of American Atheists, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, titled “The Most Hated Woman in America.” It could very well have been called “The Most Wicked Woman in America.”
In 1963, O’Hair founded American Atheists; she succeeded in getting prayer thrown out of the public schools the same year. “Religion is the most monstrous idea in the world,” she once said, saving her pathological hatred for Christianity. When she was 12 or 13, she breezed through the Bible in a weekend and decided that none of it was true.
One of her sons, William J. Murray, was so taken aback by her maniacal revulsion of Christianity that it backfired: he went on to found an organization, the Religious Freedom Coalition; it defends Christianity from people like his mom. Interestingly, he was considered too critical of his mother to be included in this film.
To say that O’Hair despised her son William for his conversion to Christianity would be an understatement. “I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times. One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother.” It takes a special kind of mother to say that about her son.
O’Hair loathed everything America stood for, but loved everything that the genocidal Communist regime in the Soviet Union stood for. She even tried to defect to the USSR in 1960, but was stopped by the Soviet embassy in Paris. Too bad they didn’t welcome her—she never would have filed a lawsuit to censor prayer in the schools.
American Atheists loves this flick about her life but objects to casting her as a thief. “To be clear,” her comrades say, “we have seen no credible evidence that there was financial impropriety on the part of the O’Hairs as was implied in the film.”
Not only is that a joke, it seriously understates her crime: she didn’t rob a bank—she ripped off American Atheists to the tune of over $600,000 in the 1990s! Then, in 2001, after she had been kidnapped, the FBI found the bones of her mutilated body.
She was also not too bright. She got through law school but couldn’t pass the bar. Maybe that’s because she was too busy having children with two different men.
O’Hair’s moral standards were about as low as one could go. From my own research on her, I found the following chestnut. “I will defecate and urinate when I damn well please and as the spirit—and the physical necessity—moves me.” Here’s another beauty. “I will engage in sexual activity with a consenting male any time and any place I d— well please.”
Alan Wolfe is a left-wing atheist who saw right through O’Hair. He recalls her as being “dictatorial, irresponsible, racist, overbearing, corrupt, anti-Semitic, homophobic, anti-Catholic and at times criminal.” She was all that and more.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair was living proof that Dostoyevsky was right: “If God does not exist, everything is permissible.” Even defecating and fornicating in the street.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.