Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the founder of American Atheists who paved the way for the New Atheist movement. In fact, activist Jerry Coyne described her “the earliest New Atheist of our era.” The Friendly Atheist even posted a tribute to her.
Here is an interesting fact about the earliest New Atheist of our era:
Unhappy with the United States policies towards the Soviet Union, Murray began attending Socialist Workers Party meetings. In 1959 to 1960 she attempted to defect to the Soviet Union, but the country denied her and her son citizenship.
My goodness. The earliest New Atheist of our era wanted to defect to the Soviet Union? Kinda makes sense. Clearly, O’Hair was no wishy-washy accomodationist.
Speaking of accomodationists, you have to wonder did Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her group have their battles with accomodationists of their day? It turns out they did. Jon Murray, who helped run American Atheists with his mother, was upset by the fact that other atheists were being too respectful of religion. They had been hardcore in the past, but they were going soft. And Jon did not like this one bit. So he fired off an article for their magazine, American Atheist.
Who were these other accomodationist atheists ?
The Soviet Union.
I kid you not. In 1987, Gnu atheist Jon Murray complained in writing that the Soviet Union was getting much too soft on the question of religion. Read it for yourself:
WHAT FREEDOM OF RELIGION MEANS TO THE SOVIETS
[Kindly uploaded by Freeman 78756FOX]
[The following excerpts were written by Jon G. Murray in the “American Atheist” of October, 1987.]
“…If you [an atheist] are confronted by religionists and you show any sign of compromise or indecision, it will be used against you as they go for the jugular. This is why the Soviet Union has guarded its internal affairs so since the end of World War II. It has been attacked and harassed more than any other nation on earth, with the possible exceptions of China and Cuba… The adoption of a hard-line internal policy has been a survival necessity, as has the dedication of a large proportion of the Soviet economy to “defense.”…If the West had left the Soviet Union alone, it might not have as much to harp about now concerning alleged human rights violations.
“Knowing the background of the situation as I do, I am deeply concerned about new Soviet policies with respect to religion….They must feel, knowing that religion versus Atheism is one of two basic factors that keep the cold war going, that they need to show the West over and over again that they are being fair to the religious. Such a policy cuts no ice with me, as an Atheist. I think that the religous in any nation should get what they richly deserve for setting back all of human culture for thousands of years.
“When a delegation of American Atheists last visited the Soviet Union, we had an interesting discussion with a high-level official with the Soviet Bureau of Atheism in Moscow. We asked if the official Soviet position was to allow parents or, particularly, grandparents to teach religion to their children, when they were being presented with public school instruction on Atheism? The answer was yes … We then asked if it would be all right for that same grandmother to teach her grandchild about the “superior values of capitalism.” The answer was a very firm no… We could not make our Soviet counterpart see that one was equally as dangerous to the overall future of his country as the other.
Wow. “I think that the religious in any nation should get what they richly deserve for setting back all of human culture for thousands of years.” Sounds like something Dawkins or Harris might say after a few beers.
Even more interesting is how the American Atheist was opposed to parents and grandparents teaching religion to their children. It was “dangerous.” As we can see, even the earliest New Atheists of our era were obsessed with other people’s children.