Son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair Denounces American Atheists’ Fight Against 9/11 Memorial Cross

William Murray, the super-Christian son of American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, has an article at World Net Daily (I know, I know…) about AA’s fight against the World Trade Center Museum’s 9/11 Cross.

And, just as you would expect, it’s evident that Murray has no knowledge of the Constitution. He’s just mad that anyone would be upset about a cross — to him, it’s just anti-Christian bigotry, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

William Murray

Never deterred by logic or the Judeo-Christian heritage of our nation, the American Atheists are now claiming that the display of the 9/11 memorial cross is causing them physical and emotional trauma. They have actually claimed in their lawsuit that the existence of the cross has caused them headaches, indigestion and mental pain. They demand that the museum build them a 17-foot high “A” to honor atheists, or else remove the cross — despite the fact that the museum is a private, not a public, entity.

He’s taking things completely out of context. The argument from AA is that the museum is supposed to honor the victims of the tragedy — and atheists and theistic non-Christians died just as Christians did on that day. When steel beams fall, of course they might criss-cross, but that hardly suggests Christian symbolism. Just because someone blessed a particular arrangement of beams does not make the cross a part of history. If a church wants to display it, fine. If people wanted to idolize other pieces of debris, that’s their business. But the purpose of a historic museum like this is to honor the victims, not suggest that some victims were more important than others because they were Christian. AA has offered to donate a symbol of their own for inclusion in the memorial, but the Christians in charge don’t want that.

As AA’s Dave Silverman said:

“What we seek is any remedy that honors everyone equally, be they Christian, Muslim, Jew, or atheist. This can either be done with a totally neutral memorial that concentrates on the tragedy and not religion, or one that allows everyone to put up a display of equal size and prominence. In the latter case, we have offered to pay for a display ourselves. If everyone is provided equal treatment, we will drop our lawsuit because fair is fair.”

Mr. Silverman said, “The one thing we won’t tolerate is Christianity getting special treatment not afforded to us or anyone else. Christians can love and rally around whatever they wish, and if they wish to deify a piece of rubble, that’s up to them, but that doesn’t mean they get sole representation in the WTC memorial.”

This isn’t about being “offended,” as Murray reiterates over and over. This is about following the law. AA claims that the law is being broken. It’s up to the courts to decide whether they have a case.

Murray makes a lot of references to his mother, as you might expect. Even if it’s fair to mention her alongside the organization she founded, the fact is that AA is no longer Madalyn’s group, not in personnel, and not in ethos. Dave Silverman may disagree with Christian theology but he’s fighting this battle on behalf of the Constitution, not because he has some “beef with heaven.”

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Rememberer

    As you carefully distance yourself from Madalyn Murray O’Hair, please do not lose sight of the flak she took so you don’t have to. Allusion to a certain popular religious figure not intended.

    • Steinmaster

      O’Hair was a bigot.  Racist, anti-semitic, cruel to employees, and dishonest. 

      Her son William has talked about that extensively.

      And then, ironically, she was murdered by atheists.

      • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5509de8970c ミッコ

        Waters was a Southern Baptist.

        • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

          Southern Baptist but turned to Atheism which he proudly proclaimed. Do not hide facts.

          • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5509de8970c ミッコ

            never turned to atheism and stop discussing old threads from 2012

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

        And I’m sure William wouldn’t say she was a racist, anti-semetic, cruel, and dishonest in order to further his own agenda.  It is obvious he would say anything about her that would condemn her atheism (and by extension, all atheists).  She was not a nice person, that much is true by all accounts, and was quite judgemental, especially later in life.

        It has never been settled whether David Waters was an atheist or not.  He was an opportunist who took a job with American Atheists specifically to get close to O’Hair so he could embezzle from them, but to say he was an atheist specifically because he worked there and then did something patently evil is specious at best.

        • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

          It was settled already that Waters was an atheist. Even now in jail he is still committed. And proudly so.

      • Nox

        Would that be the same son William who is currently lying about his mother’s organization on the blog post you are currently commenting on? The one who has made his entire career out of portraying a stereotypically evil view of O’Hair to an audience eager to believe she was evil?

        Do you maybe have a more reliable source for your accusations? Maybe anything she ever actually wrote or said?

        Also “murdered by atheists” is not necessarily accurate. She was murdered by a former employee of American Atheists who appears to have been a christian. And the thousands of death threats she received while alive appear to have mostly been from christians.

  • moother

    haahahaha the GOP feels the wrath of women as uterus shaped storm slams into Florida:

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/gop-cancels-day-one-convention-divine-wrath-heads-tampa 

    (i know, it’s OT but I wanted to share the larf)

  • Wert

    How is this news, Hemant?
    ~ Zombie Jesus

  • Heidi

    I think it would be great if a nearby church displayed it. That’s exactly where it belongs. 

  • A3Kr0n

    Nice tie. I hate ties.
    Who’s at war with Christianity? Are you at war? I’m not at war. If they want to tote that beam cross up and down the street on their backs it’s OK with me as long as they follow all applicable laws, and don’t impede traffic. Might dirty up the tie a bit though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    As ridiculous I think it is to think that a piece of rubble is somehow some great sign from God, this cross is going in the museum, not the actual memorial. Like it or not, this cross did become a part of the history of that day, is featured in an iconic photo of the aftermath, and provided a sense of comfort to a great deal of people. It is a genuine artifact of the tragedy, something a newly constructed giant “A” is not.

    • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

      Agreed. The cross is silly, but that silliness is part of the history now. I consider this whole lawsuit affair to be a PR disaster for no good reason.

      • Kodie

         The cross is only part of history because Christians appropriate right angles they see everywhere or clouds that look like angels or whatever. The problem starts with how Christians think they can stampede over events to create artificial history that puts them at the center of it.

    • Glasofruix

       and provided a sense of comfort to a great deal of people

      How can something like that provide any confort especially after such a tragedy?

      “Oh look, gawd allowed terrorists to destroy those buildings and didn’t lift a finger to save the victims, but it’s ok because he left a cross made of debrees to confort us”

      • Findog53

        How does your wise ass get comfort from losing a loved one?
         This guy you are mocking is a humanist you dumb ass.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          We mock each other all the time on here.  Being an atheist, (or humanist) is no protection from mocking by other atheists!

          • EllenBeth Wachs

            You act as if mocking someone is a good thing to do. It really isn’t. Obviously simply being an atheist is no protection from mocking by other atheists. Is it possible that empathy from other atheists might be better than ridicule?

        • Glasofruix

          Well, i don’t get confort from a cross shaped piece of debree, if you’re asking. Also, so what if he’s a humanist? That doesn’t make him immune from stating something stupid. And besides name calling, do YOU have something smart to say mr smartypants?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

            I said that a great deal of people were comforted by it. Not me. But many people were. Again, I think that’s silly, but it happened. It is a part of the history of that day.

        • Kodie

          A cross-shaped piece of metal framing of a destroyed building offers no comfort. If you believe in god, you don’t find comfort in material objects, especially when those material objects crumbled and crushed people who were stuck inside. It makes you a monster to even consider that a comforting sign from your god. 

    • Sideshow Billybob

      Have you seen what that “cross” looked like originally? Here ya go.

       http://www.billygraham.org/assets/articles/8147/Featured_Image.jpg

      They took a piece of rubble, cleaned it up nice, and deified it. If they intended it to be an artifact of tragedy, they might have left it as it was.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        Yes and this all took place within a short period of time after the tragedy. The cross is simply a part of that history, like it or not. It’s going in the museum (where it belongs), not the memorial itself.

    • Findog53

      You are that Rhode Islander who whined about the cross on an adopt a spot. I had a rebuttal for you but the leftist Providence journal won’t print it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        I didn’t “whine” about the Providence cross. I actually said that the cross would have been constitutional. The only caveat would be that the City of Providence would have to allow anyone who adopts a spot to put up their own display as well. They can’t say “Christians who adopt a spot get to put a religious display up but no one else who participates in the program can.”

        It would have required changing the nature of the Adopt-a-Spot program. I took a more moderate approach than the Humanists of Rhode Island (the group that started the complaint and which I am a member of) which declared the monument to violate the Establishment Clause outright…which would have been true if Providence did not either open that median up to all religious groups for a religious display or change the Adopt-a-Spot program as a I described.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rene.demonteverde.1 Rene Demonteverde

      A piece of rubble to you an item of utmost significance to others. Just respect others beliefs like you want them to respect yours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Arnica/1143470961 Paul Arnica

    As I read his article I can’t help but get the feeling he has some mommy issues.

    • Coyotenose

       Christians like to trot out the “You’re just rebelling because you’re angry at God” argument, oblivious to the stupidity and the arrogant dismissiveness of the claim.  Meanwhile, here’s someone who can be legitimately argued to be in the reverse position…

  • CosmicThespian

    I’m having a lot of trouble getting behind this one.  I just don’t see the display as promoting Christianity over other religions.  It’s not their to represent a religion, it’s a display of a piece of wreckage that came to have significance—however misplaced we think that may be.  It’s a piece of history and it sure seems like this museum is the proper place to display it.  Putting up other displays misses the point, as far as I can tell.  

    I’m willing to listen to counter arguments, but this is absolutely the wrong fight.  It’s petty, misguided, and a PR disaster.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      If it wasn’t about Christianity then any bent piece of metal would have suited just fine. And if it wasn’t about promoting Christianity over other religions then they could easily settle it by giving other religions a chance to display their symbols at no extra expense to them. So what’s the hold up? It’s like a little kid being upset that s/he’s not the only one who gets a piece of candy. They just want to feel extra special. 
      I have no problem with the cross being displayed, as long as other religions/beliefs are represented too. I hope that’s the final decision. It seems like a much more inclusive, shared grief than a “one size fits all” memorial.
      Then again, we all know some jackass will protest any 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      It was originally a random piece of wreckage.  It became a consecrated cross after it was taken out of the rubble.  It’s only a cross because the side opposed to the lawsuit want to give it religious significance.  Since girders cross at 90 degree angles, buildings are full of that particular symbol, but nobody gives them any significance.  This one they pulled out, trimmed, and blessed.

    • Kodie

       Christians kind of take over any event of significance. See: the Aurora Shooting, and the guy who built crosses for the victims. They see what they want to see and don’t think about anyone else. They are indomitable, selfish, unchallengeably self-centered around their faith. They ask god for meaning and they find garbage that crushed 3000 people to death, so they invent historical significance of the garbage and it doesn’t have to go in a museum, it really doesn’t. The problem starts at the sensitive time when it’s too soon to challenge desperate sorrow, and ends up 11 years later when it’s too late to challenge, because it’s already “historically significant” just because. We can never win because they swoop in and take over all the significance of an event right away and we’re going to be assholes if we start at the beginning and call bullshit on their asshole behavior where they act like only they exist and only their god is really speaking through the tragedy.

  • advancedatheist

    It must drive William Murray nuts to realize that atheism has become nearly mainstream and socially accepted in the U.S. without his mother’s example and help. Madalyn might have seemed radical and edgy in the 1960′s and 1970′s, but in the 21st Century she continues to fade into obscurity, perhaps deservedly so. I’ve read some of her writings, and while she seemed well read and intelligent, these works can’t compete now with all the books, periodicals and blogs promoting atheism which have come out in the last few years. William keeps trying to stay relevant by spending his nearly exhausted capital as Madalyn’s renegade son, but people can see that he writes nonsensical and contradictory things about the alleged horrors of atheism.

    Specifically, he writes in the latest edition of his Mommie Dearest book that his mother wanted to create a swinging sexual utopia – the standard christian fantasy about atheists’ sex lives, in other words. Yet elsewhere, on the website of one of his organizations, he reflects on the abduction and murder of Madalyn, his brother Jon and his daughter (Jon’s niece) Robin, who all lived together. William writes that Jon and Robin spent their lives without sexual relations; he basically implies that Jon died as a 40 year old virgin. You’d think that christian convert William would have approved of Jon and Robin for their sexual abstinence, but no, without seeing the contradiction he blames their not getting sex on Madalyn’s atheism. Apparently Madalyn’s sexual utopia didn’t exist at home, in other words, or else Jon grew up as an incompetent atheist who couldn’t get the hang of the sex part.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I would like to know more about the ‘physical and emotional trauma’ bit.  On Fox David didn’t deny it, which leads me to believe it is indeed in the lawsuit.  And I can’t see why, since it is not necessary to show physical or emotional damage to establish ‘harm’.  So what’s the point of adding in some extra stuff, that even if true seems disingenuous?

  • JoFro

    When you’ve got even uber-liberal John Stewart and his cronies mocking you on national television over this case, maybe it’s time to look deeper at this issue

    • Kodie

       Oh, no. Step off, it’s the untouchable 9/11. I remember it, I’m not a cold person, but I’m a rational person. Hoarding metal wreckage from a building demolished by terrorists is sort of insane. That piece of metal did take its part in killing people; it wasn’t the “killer” and “muslims” weren’t the killers, it was a group of terrorists. Christians think they get a special pass because it’s always about them. They are opportunistic in tragedy. They think they are helping people and they get sentimental over trash, where is their god? I know that’s an asshole thing to point out, and as emotional and protective people are of their feelings, they don’t ever give a shit about anyone else’s feelings! They just drive the ship in their own direction and concoct history to their comforting symbols of meaning. It’s pathological and it needs to stop. It’s difficult in the midst of a tragedy because it’s culturally anti-social to be a prick about just about anything a person might be going through and whatever they imagine is a comfort to them in the moment. After that, it’s set in goddamned stone and you “can’t change history,” which Christians create to reflect their privilege and priority in the US. It’s also, in this situation, always “too soon.” If not now, then when? When can we ever challenge Christians as to their delusion of priority in the aftermath of tragedy?

      Also, Jon Stewart is on the board of the museum (or something like that). His reactions are emotional and preserving of his standing. Even if he was in no position, he might very likely be the kind to step tolerantly over this. But the Christians never step tolerantly.

  • Gunstargreen

    My local news paper missed the point as well. I even wrote in correcting them and they continued to miss the point of my response.


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