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Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Madalyn Murray O'HairAKA Madalyn Evalyn Mays

Born: 13-Apr-1919
Birthplace: Beechview, PA
Died: Sep-1995
Location of death: Austin, TX
Cause of death: Murder
Remains: Buried, Unmarked grave, near Austin, TX

Gender: Female
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Atheist spokeswoman

Military service: US Army (cryptographer, Women's Army Corps, WWII)

The first atheist famous solely for her atheism, Madalyn Murray O'Hair participated in the movement that eventually saw mandatory prayer barred from tax-funded public schools in America.

She served as a US Army cryptographer during World War II, got discharged due to pregnancy, and bore two children out of wedlock to two different men.

She wrote a letter to the Soviet government in 1959 applying for Russian citizenship. In the summer of 1960, she brought her boys to the Soviet embassy in Washington, DC to make her case in person. Then in August, O'Hair took them to Paris. After a month of visits to the Soviet embassy there, she finally got discouraged and returned to the United States.

She sued the Baltimore public school system on behalf of her older son, who had been compelled to endure a daily prayer as part of his schooling. O'Hair's case was not unique. In fact, during the appeals process the case was merged with a few others before the whole thing got decided at the Supreme Court. But Madalyn eagerly claimed credit for starting it all, claiming that her role had been instrumental. Coupled with the fact that she loved publicity, O'Hair was the natural person to found a national atheist group. She was widely despised -- by Christians for her heresy, and other people for her abrasive personality and authoritarian manner.

Was chief speechwriter for Larry Flynt's 1984 Presidential campaign, after he renounced his born-again Christian period.

In the summer of 1995 she and her son and granddaughter were kidnapped and murdered by a disgruntled former employee with a long criminal record, David Roland Waters. He died in prison in 2003.

Father: John Irwin Mays (carpenter, d. heart attack)
Mother: Lena Christina Scholle (homemaker)
Brother: John Irwin Mays ("Irv")
Husband: John Henry Roths (steelworker, m. 9-Oct-1941, div. 1943)
Boyfriend: William J. Murray, Jr. (extramarital affair)
Son: William Joseph Murray III (born-again Christian, b. 25-May-1946)
Son: Jon Garth Murray (b. 16-Nov-1954, d. Sep-1995 murder)
Husband: Richard O'Hair (m. Oct-1965, sep., d. 13-Mar-1978 cancer)
Daughter: Robin Murray O'Hair (granddaughter, legally adopted, d. Aug-1995 murder)

    High School: Rossford High School, Rossford, OH (1936)
    University: University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
    University: University of Pittsburgh
    University: BA, Ashland College, Ashland, OH (1949)
    University: Western Reserve University
    Law School: Ohio Northern University
    Law School: LLB, South Texas College of Law (1952)
    University: Howard University (1957-59, expelled)

    American Atheists Founder
    Fair Play for Cuba Committee Baltimore, MD
    Freethought Society Founder
    Socialist Labor Party 1956
    Socialist Workers Party
    Society of Separationists
    Social Security Administration 1959
    Converted to Atheism raised Presbyterian
    Expelled from School Howard University (Feb-1959)
    Hysterectomy 1961
    Assisted by the ACLU
    Assault on a police officer, Baltimore, MD (20-Jun-1963), charges dropped (26-Oct-1965)
    Deported from Mexico City to Houston, TX (25-Sep-1965)
    Assisted by the ACLU San Antonio, TX (27-Sep-1965)
    Assisted by the ACLU Texas (20-Oct-1965)
    Ordained by the Universal Life Church Minister (1970)
    Hip Replacement Surgery
    Disturbing the Peace Austin, TX (3-Nov-1977), interrupted the city council meeting opening prayer
    Failure to Appear 1978
    Pied chocolate, Albuquerque, NM (23-Oct-1979)
    Kidnapped San Antonio, TX (27-Aug-1995)
    Declared Legally Dead 29-Sep-1995
    Exhumed Camp Wood, TX (Jan-2001)
    Autopsy
    Famous Missing Persons 24-Sep-1996 to Jan-2001
    Risk Factors: Obesity, Diabetes

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Madalyn Murray O'Hair


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