I thought of Madelyn Murray O’Hare some time ago while riding down Forrester Street. Whatever happened to her? She was an American atheist activist, founder of American Atheists, and the organization’s president from 1963 to 1986. She is best known for the Murray v. Curlett lawsuit, which led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling ending official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963.
Madelyn was born in Hayesville, Ohio. She lived there for awhile. You can’t get the folks in Hayesville to talk about Madelyn. The folks at nearby Ashland College, where she attended, don’t like to talk about Madelyn either.
Madelyn, chief of all atheists, always made for great ratings for the talk show types. You could book Madelyn and get some hoot-and-holler preacher to put her on the skewer, and the sponsors would grin all the way to the bank.
I’ve wondered what Jesus would have done with Madelyn. I think Jesus might have taken her to lunch, gone down by the sea, had a little fresh fish on a fire, talked about the weather, the kids, the garden. Maybe he’d have slipped a box of chocolates behind her screen door on her birthday.
I’ve a feeling Madelyn was another Saul waiting to be transformed into a Paul ... but no one ever took her to lunch ... or slipped a box of chocolates behind her screen door.
There are Madelyns all around us, folks downright hostile to what we believe. I’ve a suggestion: Let’s take ‘em to lunch ... talk about the weather, the kids, the garden, maybe slip a box of chocolates behind their screen door on their birthdays.
I’ve concluded that we can package our message of Jesus in all the gimmicks we want, but if it never gets down to goin’ to lunch or droppin’ a box of chocolates behind the screen door, this “Gospel Ship ain’t going’ nowhere.
Glad we could get together.