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AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC. P O Box 140195 Austin, TX 78714-0195 PRESS RELEASE FOR RELEASE: 14 JUNE 1993 Thursday, June 17, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the removal from the public schools of the nation of both the reverential reading of the King James Bible and the unison, oral, recitation of the "Lord's Prayer." "Murray v. Curlett" and "Abington School District v. Schempp", 374 U.S. 203; 83 S.Ct. 1560; 10 L.Ed.2d 844 (1963). In an interview Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the nation's and the world's best-known Atheist, and the Atheist mother who was the litigant in that Supreme Court case, was asked how she views the school-prayer situation, now, thirty years later and how she would evaluate what she accomplished in the case. Dr. O'Hair, age seventy-four, an even more adamant Atheist than she was thirty years ago, recalled that she thought, then, that she was the only Atheist in the United States. At the time, she had for several years carried around in her wallet a short news clip that there was one other person in the world, a female medical doctor in Great Britain, who was also an Atheist. "Now," she pointed out, "over 10 percent of the population of the United States is Atheistic, by every count."* "Although court decisions usually are harbingers of the end of an argument, the 1963 bible/prayer decision was a beginning for Atheism in the United States," she said. In the thirty-year interim period from 1963 to 1993, "Atheism" has become a household word, stemming largely from the activities of Dr. O'Hair and her advocacy of this life-style. Starting with Phil Donahue's first broadcast, she has appeared on hundreds of television (Johnny Carson, Dennis Wholey, Joe Pine, Tom Snyder, William F. Buckley, Steve Allen, Oprah Winfry, and more), and radio talk shows (for example, the famous Long John Nebel show out of New York), at colleges and universities from Harvard to Dartmouth to UCLA, the universities of Maryland, Hawaii, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, and Michigan, and before many private groups. Articles about her appeared in "Life", "Time", "Esquire", "Saturday Evening Post", "Fact", the "Realist", (and others), as well as - and continuously - in the newspapers throughout the land. After over forty legal cases to demand separation of state and church, the organizations she founded are still engaged in such suits, the most recent successfully removing crosses from city seals in the Chicago area. The most controversial was a suit to halt prayers in space. The Apollo VIII swing around the moon had a prayer factored into the flight under the code name, "Experiment P-1." The astronauts, under the direct orders of NASA, "spontaneously" read the first ten verses of the first Chapter of Genesis from the Old Testament off the flight plan at 7:31 P.M. plus-10-seconds, on Christmas Eve, 1971. The flight, of course, had been deliberately delayed in order to bring the religious message at that time, on that day, NASA being much under the influence of the religious right. Other cases have demanded the removal of "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency and coins; the elimination of prayer in the U.S. Congress (both the House of Representative and the Senate); a challenge to the IRS practice of permitting taxpayers to deduct gifts to religious organizations; to force five states of the Union to remove requirements for belief in God from state constitutions (North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas - only the suit in Arkansas failed and President Clinton's home state still requires a God-belief to give testimony in court or to hold public office); demanding that the F.C.C. give Atheists equal time on radio and television; and many others. Dr. O'Hair meantime was busy founding the membership organization, American Atheists, Inc., the American Atheist Press which publishes over 120 Atheist titles, and the American Atheist Library & Archives, Inc., with Atheist books collected from around the world and from the last two centuries. She shocked the nation when she demanded and obtained from the radio station owned by President Lyndon Baines Johnson's family (KLBJ-Austin) time for the once-a-week "American Atheist Radio Series." When Community Access Television programming was made available, she immediately demanded airtime and the one-half hour, weekly American Atheist Television Forum is now seen on 130 cable systems which reach 5,874,605 homes. For many years the Dial-An-Atheist(R) telephone answering service flourished in over forty cities. The first American Atheist Book Store was founded in Denver, Colorado. An American Atheist Museum held forth in Petersburg, Indiana, from 1978 forward. The list of accomplishments is long. American Atheists operates out of a $1-3/4 million headquarters building in Austin, Texas, and holds an annual convention in major cities of the nation (New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Denver, San Diego, Lexington, and its home city of Austin). The "American Atheist" magazine has come to be known throughout the world, and heads of Atheist groups from France, England, Germany, Austria, India, New Zealand, and Australia have attended the American Atheist conventions in the United States. Dr. O'Hair established United World Atheists, together with GORA of India, and Lawrence Bullock of Australia in the late 1960s. The first two World Atheist Meet were held in India in 1972 and 1980, and the third in Helsinki, Finland, in 1983. When Dr. O'Hair retired in 1985, at age sixty-six, her daughter Robin Murray-O'Hair took over management of the American Atheist Press and the American Atheist Library and Archives, Inc. Her son, Jon G. Murray then became C.E.O. of the American Atheist group of corporations, including American Atheists Inc. and the American Atheist GHQ, Inc. Dr. O'Hair still reports to work daily as "a volunteer." She has authored eleven books on Atheism (many now out of print), takes occasional appearances (such as the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Phil Donahue Show on which she was the first guest). Dr. O'Hair, who is an attorney, has been precluded from practicing law in Texas which requires a belief in God to be a member of the Texas State Bar. She does, however, remain a consultant on constitutional law and Atheist theoretics for the organizations she founded. At the end of the interview, Dr. O'Hair laughingly related that her book "An Atheist Epic" (written in 1970),** subtitled "The complete and unexpurgated story of how Bible and prayers were removed from the public schools of the United States," is still "too controversial" for major bookstores and book distributors to handle. At the beginning of this year, it was, Dr. O'Hair said, again turned down by a number of movie and television film makers as "simply too hot to handle." "It is no wonder" Dr. O'Hair explained. The Bible/prayer decision has been attacked in both state and federal courts more often than Roe v. Wade. Literally hundreds of times, there have been attempts to pass legislation on federal, state, county, and city level to return prayers to schools - but the decision has held firm. "I am of the considered opinion that it will continue to hold even against the new attacks by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalitions," she concluded. FOOTNOTES: *"Research Report, the national Survey of Religions Iden- tification, 1989-90"; "Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1991"; "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches"; "Churches and Church Membership in the United States, Home Missions Board, Southern Baptist Convention"; and "World Almanac and Book of Facts". **Madalyn O'Hair, "An American Atheist Epic", 302 pages, is available from the American Atheist Press, Inc., PO Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768. Check current catalog and pricing info. ISBN: 0-910309-89-2. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************


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