American Icon

Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant reminds us that it’s the anniversary of the death of a very unfriendly atheist: Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

He’s having a hard time finding someone to say something pleasant about this unpleasant woman. So let me just say that I agree with Garry Wills, when he suggested that O’Hair could be seen as a kind of Horatio Alger figure who showed what a single person of humble origins could do against “the system”.

Wills quotes Frank J. Sorauf’s, The Wall Of Seperation: The Constitutional Politics Of Church And State:

Without holding any office or seeking any, without any formal political support or allies, without, indeed, very much support or status of any kind, and with only modest expenditures and a somewhat inexperienced attorney, she ultimately stopped the use of the Lord’s Prayer in the schools of Baltimore and the nation.

We like to tell our children that they can grow up to change the world. Well, O’Hair proves that we’re not a pack of liars.

(For the record, I know that the cases would likely have come out the same without her. But she fought for it and she certainly took the heat for it and deserves some of the credit for what was accomplished.)

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