Mrs. Murray’s War on God

In this 1964 Post interview, atheist Madalyn Murray shares her motivations behind the challenge to school prayer.

Atheist activist Madalyn Murray

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In the 1960s, Madalyn Murray was widely known, and disliked, for her atheism and her successful challenge to prayer in school. But the Post’s interviewer found her more in love with a tough fight than with the separation of church and state.

I don’t really care that much about atheism. I’m not well read in philosophy and theology. I’ve always been more interested in politics and social reform. But I’ve gotten into this thing, and I’ve been driven out of the community. Atheism is all I have to fight my way back in with. I want respect for my right to have any opinion I want — and to live.”

Many times I asked her the question of why she does it, and each time I got a different answer. One time she answered, “Because I’m right.” Another time she mentioned the motive of carving out a job for herself. On another occasion she explained, “I love a good fight. I’ve always been like this all my life — and I’ve always won. I’ve always believed I could do anything better or faster or both than anyone else. And I’ve never had any real competition. I wish I did. I’d like to lose in a good, tough fight. I guess fighting God and God’s spokesmen is sort of the ultimate, isn’t it?”

—This excerpt from “Mrs. Murray’s War on God” by Robert Liston, July 11, 1964, appears in the July/August 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post


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Featured image: Atheist and activist Madalyn Murray. SEPS. Photo by Steve Schapiro

This article is featured in the July/August 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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