Madalyn Murray O'Hair was and may still be considered by some to be "the most hated woman in America."  She spoke her mind, didn't pull punches and clearly had no compunction about offending anyone if she felt the offense was necessary.  As you will learn in the following piece, she also experienced no difficulty in taking well-aimed shots at those who you might think were her own compatriots.  Considering the time when this speech was recorded and what Madalyn had done and too many others had not, I'm not certain she is to be blamed for that.

So ... give a listen, and keep in mind: this talk was given in 1972, when atheism was not a topic for polite conversation, when the virtue of church and faith was unquestioned ... and the events surrounding the 11th of September, 2001 were not quite 30 years in the offing.  Be prepared for an education in the early history of the United States and the interactions between government and religion in those days.  Be prepared to be shocked in the first 10 minutes, too, because Madalyn didn't suffer fools gladly.

Seat belt fastened?


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Loren, did Madalyn light a fire under your ass, or any other asses here at A/N?

I liked the first ten minutes and will replay them. I liked the rest of it too; she would have been one hell of a Marine drill instructor.

Near 1979 American Atheists convened in San Francisco. I wasn't a member but I knew of her lawsuit that in the 1960s resulted in taking mandated prayer from the public schools. I was glad she had filed it so I went to hear her. She had at least some of the fire she had in the clip you provided here.

I'd been an agnostic for 20 years and had calmed down after my traumatic departure from Catholicism. I was starting my recuperation after four years in hardball politics and remembered the fire I'd had in my belly. I knew its causes and wondered what kind of trauma had built the fire in her belly.

Does anyone here know what had lit her fire?

Honestly, Tom, Madalyn pissed me off in my first encounter with her, which was her Playboy interview back in the 60s.  I was pretty clueless back then and really had no idea what she was on about, but her abrasive attitude in that interview upset me pretty badly at that time.  I'm still not her biggest fan by any stretch, but I have a far better appreciation now for what she was about.

Atheism has come light-years since that time, but in many ways, she was our Prometheus.

Really not the sort of person you want to quarrel with, but a fantastic speaker, clear, factual and sharp as a knife. I wasn't shocked in the first 10 minutes - every person needs to know herself first, how else can you face the world?

I've always bristled at the "most hated" sobriquet.  The yahoos hate her because she resolutely calls their BS by its right name -- and they have no answer but hate.  She is the most RATIONAL, openly SKEPTICAL woman in America.  Her analysis of the meaninglessness of religious language is right on.

Loren, thanks for posting.



My pleasure, Alan.

I have to say, though, her Playboy interview (what I remember of it after nearly 50 years) could have gone a lot better than it did.  She came across as confrontational, angry and uncaring.  I must admit that it would be interesting to revisit that interview and see if my opinion had changed, though there were elements of her statements which (if I recall them correctly) were pretty well beyond redemptive.

And after a fairly simple Google search, I found that Playboy Interview.  It's not quite so bad as I remember it, but her mention of seeking "stud service" did her no favors 50 years ago.l

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