Afterlives of the Rich and Famous

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Madalyn Murray O’Hair proudly wore and encouraged the title of the “most hated woman in America,” and her death was, in many ways, as shocking as the life she lived. An avowed atheist, she was born Madalyn Mays on April 13, 1919, in Pittsburgh. Her Presbyterian parents, John and Lena Mays, had her baptized into their faith when she was an infant. After graduating from high school in Rossford, Ohio, where the financially struggling family had moved to live with Lena’s brother, she married steelworker John Henry Roths in 1941, but they separated when they both enlisted to serve in World War II. He joined the Marine Corps, while she joined the Women’s Army Corps and was assigned to a position in Italy, where, in 1945, she began an affair with William J. Murray Jr. Murray was an army officer. He was also a married Catholic, and although his religion prevented him from divorcing his wife, he and Madalyn conceived a child. She divorced John Roths, adopted the name Madalyn Murray, and gave birth to a son whom she named William J. Murray after his biological father.

After her military service ended, she returned to the United States with her child, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Ohio’s Ashland University, and received a law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1952, but she failed the bar exam and never practiced law. Instead, she was hired by an airplane manufacturing plant, where she met and had an affair with Michael Fiorillo, a fellow employee, whom she never married, but their son, Jon Garth Murray, was born on November 16, 1954.

Madalyn joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1956, savoring her role as a relentlessly outspoken activist at marches and protests. This affiliation led her to take her two young sons to Europe with the intention of gaining citizenship in the Soviet Union. Her request was denied, and in 1960 she and her children returned to the United States, settling in Baltimore.

It was in 1960 that Madalyn Murray, now an avowed atheist, took great exception to the fact that her son Bill was being “subjected to” Bible readings at school, declaring it unconstitutional and filing suit against the Baltimore Public School System. After a long, complicated series of court rulings, Madalyn, armed with her considerable IQ and law degree and enjoying the spotlight at the top of her lungs, managed to propel her lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court, which, in 1963, voted 8–1 in her favor, effectively ending prayer and Bible reading in American schools. The decision gained a lot of national media attention and outrage, and Madalyn’s sons and other family members became flashpoints for that anger while she reveled in her newfound notoriety.

Her highly publicized success with the Supreme Court inspired her to participate in a variety of other “separation of church and state” causes, from an unsuccessful effort to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches to an equally unsuccessful lawsuit against NASA to declare it unconstitutional for American astronauts to broadcast prayers and Bible readings from space. Before long she managed to alienate not only much of the country, but also one of her own sons. Bill, a born-again Christian and preacher, eventually broke all ties with her and his half brother, Jon, who’d become one of her most ardent followers.

In 1965 Madalyn Murray married a Marine named Richard O’Hair, who presided over a pro–free thought, pro-atheist organization called the Society of Separationists. She took charge of the organization after his death in 1978. In the meantime, she founded the American Atheist Center and the American Atheist Press in Austin, Texas, both of which were created for the purpose of uniting practicing atheists and providing them with reliable information with which to support their beliefs. Before long her profane, controversial, combative persona was recognized by the entertainment media for, if nothing else, its guaranteed ability to draw attention and ratings, and she was soon giving interviews to Playboy magazine and appearing on national talk shows. She lectured at Dartmouth, Harvard, and UCLA and even became Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt’s “chief speechwriter” in his resoundingly unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1984. She also produced and hosted her own syndicated radio and television shows promoting atheism.

In 1986 Madalyn decided to retire and handed over the reins of the Society of Separationists and the multimillion-dollar American Atheists offices to her son Jon. Jon was not a popular leader, and many chapters began seceding from the Austin headquarters. Remaining local and state chapters were abandoned in 1991.

In the meantime, Madalyn had long since adopted her granddaughter Robin, William’s daughter, and Madalyn, Jon, and Robin had become literally inseparable. They lived together, they worked together, they vacationed together, and, thanks to Madalyn’s fiercely territorial control over Jon’s and Robin’s lives, neither of them ever dated or strayed far from Madalyn’s side.

On August 27, 1995, the three of them suddenly and mysteriously vanished. A half-eaten meal was found on the dining table. Imperative medications were left throughout the house. The family’s much adored dogs were abandoned with no arrangements made to care for them. A note was left on the locked office door of the American Atheists headquarters stating that the family had been called out of town on an emergency and had no idea how long they’d be gone. A handful of phone calls from Madalyn, Jon, and Robin over the next month only added to the mystery. They claimed that they were in San Antonio on business. Jon ordered $600,000 worth of gold coins from a San Antonio jeweler, but only collected $500,000 worth before disappearing again. Both Jon and Robin called various friends to claim that nothing was wrong, although they offered no explanation for their absence, and they reportedly sounded disturbed, stressed, and exhausted. The last communication from the Murray O’Hairs came on September 28, 1995.

An investigation finally focused on a convicted felon named David Waters, whom Madalyn had hired to work for American Atheists. In 1995 he pleaded guilty to the theft of $54,000 from the organization, and Madalyn wrote an article in her newsletter giving his lengthy rap sheet, which included a vicious assault on his own mother. The article reportedly enraged him, and law enforcement began pursuing a belief that Waters and an accomplice named Danny Fry had kidnapped, extorted money from, and then murdered Madalyn, Jon, and Robin.

That belief became fact when, in January 2001, David Waters, as a result of a plea deal, led police to a Texas ranch where the severed remains of the three Murray O’Hairs were buried. Waters was convicted of kidnapping, robbery, and murder and died in prison on January 27, 2003.

From Francine

The surprise is not that Madalyn went immediately through the Left Door and right back in utero again. The surprise is why.
It has nothing to do with the fact that she was an atheist. Atheists who live lives of integrity, kindness, compassion, and sincerity are as welcome on the Other Side as the most devout Christians. What sent Madalyn through the Left Door was that her life was mean-spirited, cruel, dishonest, intensely narcissistic, and, it’s important to add, devoid of any psychological or physiological challenges; and all of these traits were entirely her choice, calculated and deliberate. The fact that I can’t see her chart means that this wasn’t her first dark lifetime or her first trip through the Left Door. Whether it will be her last is completely up to her, although she’s not off to an encouraging start.

In June 1996 Madalyn reincarnated. She returned as a male, born near the western mountains of the Ukraine. Her name is now Leon or Leonid. I don’t know the last name, nor would I reveal it if I did. Her parents are fine, hardworking people who cannot understand why Leonid, the youngest of their four children, has grown up hateful, rebellious, dishonest, and already involved in criminal activity, while his siblings would make any parent proud.

With no chart, no Spirit Guide, no acceptance of input from the Other Side at all, it’s impossible to forecast what lies ahead for this lifetime. But as with every dark entity that recycles through the Left Door again and again and again, we’re vigilantly watching for an opportunity to reach out in mid-cycle and bring this soul Home into a Light so sacred and powerfully loving that no darkness can survive in its presence.

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