Madalyn Murray O’Hair was an atheist, activist, and founder of American Atheists, “a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the civil liberties of atheists and advocating complete separation of church and state.”
She is best known for the Murray vs. Curlett lawsuit, in which she challenged mandatory prayers and Bible reading in Baltimore public schools. That lawsuit was consolidated with Abington School District v. Schempp (1963) and heard by the Supreme Court, which ruled that Bible-reading in American schools was unconstitutional. She and her family were targeted as a result, receiving death threats regularly. Nonetheless, O’Hair’s dedication to resisting Christian dominance was not quelled. She went on to found American Atheists, through which numerous other lawsuits were filed challenging religious practices in schools as unconstitutional.
O’Hair was passionate about ending Christian and religious dominance in American culture because of a desire to fight back against oppression of women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.