William Murray, the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, has spoken out about the various pieces of misinformation and omission in the recent Netflix movie about his mother.
Murray notes that the Netflix movie completely ignored Madalyn’s Marxist worldview and activities:
Perhaps the biggest omission, according to Murray, was the lack of mention of his mother’s affiliation with the Communist Party and her attempted defection to the Soviet Union when William was a child. Murray goes into detail about the attempted defection in “My Life Without God,” and in one of his newer books, “Utopian Road to Hell,” he dissects the “magic think” that led his mother to believe a Marxist utopian society could be created on Earth.
The movie portrays O’Hair as a social worker for the city at the time of her famous court challenge to the practice of mandatory Bible readings in public schools. She is depicted as a tireless civil rights activist, but Murray said she was more of a subversive: She managed the Communist Party bookstore and chaired the Maryland branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a pro-Castro organization.
Yes, that is a HUGE omission. For that is a key piece of historical evidence that helps us understand the thinking of O’Hair. Of course, an atheist activist could deny all of this, arguing that Murray has an axe to grind and thus his testimony can not be trusted.
But it turns out there is a powerful piece of evidence that supports Bill’s account. And that evidence comes in the form of Bill’s brother, Jon Murray. As everyone acknowledges, Jon was someone who was profoundly shaped and influenced by his mother. Jon Murray wrote an article in “American Atheist” of October, 1987. Let’s consider key excerpts from this article:
“…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
“As an Atheist leader, I think that this ultimate sacrifice
[allowing Western religion to invade the Soviet Union] is a mistake.
Opening up to religion and democratization could be the fatal
combination for socialism … If the Socialist countries open up to
religion, religion will destabilize them from the ground up, thus
softening them up for the invasion of capitalism. The Soviet Union,
China, and Cuba are basically poor, working-class countries, and they
will be simply used as slave labor camps for capitalism.
“Religion will move in and destroy the rational base of Socialism.
Once that is accomplished, the idea of democratization is injected into
the culture, thinning out and destroying the leadership, turning
elections into popularity contests, and displacing the workers and
denying them the right to direct participatory self-government. Then
capitalism takes over the economic system, and production for use turns
into production for profit, and workers become wage slaves.”
Wow. Jon Garth Murray was extremely radicalized, as such views would be found only among the tiniest fringe elements of Americans in 1987. Consider just how radical his views were:
- Murray, writing as president of American Atheists in 1987, actually criticized the Soviet Union for going too soft on religion. According to Murray, the Soviet Union was long victimized by the West and its attempt to appease the West by softening its anti-religious harassment and persecution was viewed by Murray as profoundly misguided. As the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair noted, ” 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.” Notice that Murray also believed that parents or grandparents teaching their children religion was “dangerous” and should not be allowed.
- During the Cold War, members of American Atheists were meeting with Soviet leaders. Murray writes, ” 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.” Note that Murray describes this as the latest visitation, implying there had been previous ones.
- Murray worries that the Soviet Union’s softening of its anti-religious activities poses a threat to “socialism” and will be exploited by the “capitalists.”
It should be obvious that Jon Murray was a radicalized Marxist who admired the Soviet Union and was deeply concerned they were making a grave mistake when it came to letting up on religion. So how did he become so radicalized? He lived his whole life in the shadow of his radicalized mother, a woman so extreme that she actually wanted to defect to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. In other words, the testimony from one son – William – is supported by the writings of the other son – Jon.
So it would appear that Madalyn Murray O’Hair began her activist career as Marxist and probably shifted to atheist activism only because it made her a lot of money.
That Madalyn Murray O’Hair, arguably the first New Atheist, was an extreme Marxist is deliciously ironic. For ever since O’Hair, atheist activists have been warning about the dangers of religion and insisting God belief is a delusion. Yet Marxism is clearly more dangerous and delusional than religion. It’s more dangerous in the sense that it promises a utopia on Earth that inevitably leads to massive suffering and death. It is more delusional in the sense that it has actually been falsified every time and every place it is tried. In other words, Marxists are in no position, morally or intellectually, to warn about the dangers and delusions of another worldview.