JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The biblical story of Ruth parallels the life of the son of the person at one time considered the most hated woman in America.
William “Bill” Murray, son of the late atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, shared part of his story at the “Show Me Your Glory, Lord” prayer rally at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City on April 2.
The event marked the third year Missouri legislators asked the religious community to pray as they prepare the state’s budget. It kicked off 40 days of prayer leading up to the deadline for the budget be adopted.
Using the last verse in Judges and the Book of Ruth, Murray said, “When I first read the first verses in Ruth, I was struck by…the parallels to my family.” Neither he nor his brother knew their fathers. His grandmother read Tarot cards and his grandfather smuggled moonshine. His mother was intelligent but had a “messed up mind,” he said.
Murray grew up in a home characterized by profanity and violence. His mother served in the military and went to college on the G.I. Bill. But she couldn’t get keep a job because she tried to tell her bosses how to do their jobs. She was recruited to Communism out of an unemployment line.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair took her sons to France where she tried to defect to the Soviet Union at the embassy. Personnel there convinced her to return to the United States “to fight the revolution” at home, her son explained.
After the family returned, Murray was labeled an atheist when his mom used him to remove organized prayer from public schools in a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1963.
The removal of prayer had less to do with the First Amendment than it “had to do with one person who was unhappy with her human condition…and decided to change the environment to suit her dysfunction,” he said.
His mother was less concerned with Communism itself. Instead, “she wanted to create a utopia on earth,” he said. “More people have been killed by utopian governments than those who died in all wars…. There is only one utopia. It isn’t going to be created by any human hand.”
Murray said he gave up Communism because he “could hold a job.” He said he became involved in “all kinds of things,” becoming an Ann Randian libertarian and then a social Darwinist. “Fortunately, God was able to reach down…and drag me out of…my muck,” he said.
His mom “made lots of money hating God,” and after she went missing in 1995, her atheist friends took over her home and business. No one reported her missing for a full year, until Murray did. She had been murdered by a member of her staff.
“Every journey to Moab ends badly…. No matter how good the idea seems to be…eventually the journey to that condemned place is going to end badly,” he said.
In an article published in Hustler in the 1980s, Madalyn Murray O’Hair gave her opinions on marriage and other issues, opinions considered outrageous at the time. “But now what she said is in mainstream politics today,” Murray said.
He added that if he had the opportunity to speak directly to Missouri legislators, he would tell them not to look to Moab for the solutions to the problems facing them.
William Federer, an historian and author, also spoke, sharing the history of prayer in the United States. All the colonies had a spiritual aspect to their governance, including days of prayer and fasting and days of thanksgiving.