The prominent names well known to this community like Dawkins and Hitchens are preceded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair. I wonder if she is as well known to the younger atheists.
It takes some courage to confront the majority like Dawkins and Hitchens have - was it tougher to be an outspoken atheist in the 1960's?
Today after going through my deceased father's letters (he died in 1994) I saw some correspondence and magazines from an organization he belonged run by Madalyn Murray O'Hair. It seemed a good idea to check her out on the internet.
A Google search came up with her title as the most hated person in America. That probably comes from her having a major effect on the use of religion in U. S. schools.
Dawkins and Hitchens have accomplished much but have not been responsible for such a major shift in public policy. So, they have not inherited that title, although they are still hated by a lot of people.
What shocked me was finding out in a Wikipedia article how she and her son were kidnapped and murdered . It appears to be by a criminal psychopath rather than a religious nut. But, there is the charge that the police did not take the case that seriously - she was America's most despised after all.
What amazes me is the rumors that are in the discussion portion of Wikipedia. There are a lot of outrageous things entered about how greedy and reprehensible she was. One temporarily took me in by stating that the writer personally knew her. Fortunately there were other entries from people who worked with her that contradicted this stuff. The problem is that most of contributors repeat some of the more odious charges. So you wonder - Will people that try to read that stuff with an open mind be biased towards what the majority say.
It was unfortunate to find out someone who had inspired my father came to such a horrible end.
A forum like this would probably weed out the types that would spread disinformation. Is there anyone out there who knew her?