American atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair, b. Madalyn Mays,
Pittsburgh, Pa., Apr. 13, 1919, gained national attention in the
early 1960s when she brought a legal suit against the Baltimore,
Md., school board for a rule requiring her son to participate in
Bible reading in junior high school. Taken to the U.S. Supreme
Court, Murray v. Curlett (considered along with a similar case
resulted (1963) in an 8-1 vote in its favor. It reaffirmed the
Court's 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision, which held that prayer in
public schools violated the First Amendment's prohibition on
establishing a religion. O'Hair, a
lawyer and social worker, founded the American Atheist Center in
Austin, Tex., and was its director from 1965 to 1977. In 1995
she and two family members were reported to have disappeared.
Wright, Lawrence, Saints and Sinners (1993).
to Shy David's Murray-O'Hair Page.