Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cult Video Interlude, Part 8: "The Old New Atheist"

Probably because of the late, great Robert Anton Wilson's dismissive attitude toward Madalyn Murray O'Hair, I have never really wanted to research her. He likened her to the Pope because of her intellectual rigidity, only of a godless sort. Everything I have read about her makes her sound like a cult leader. Was she?

I have only very recently developed an interest in her, and by "recently" I mean in the last 30 minutes. Atheist organizations and atheism as a kind of counter-religion have never appealed to me. Skepticism is one thing, atheism another.

But now I have watched the first clip of Godless in America on the YouTube (below). If she was a cult leader, it's partly because of the good thing she did by pursuing the ban on compulsory school prayer in public schools and winning her case at the SCOTUS. That alone is more than Sam Harris, PZ Myers, and Daniel Dennett combined have done for the atheist cause.

She was even a better insult-comic than is PZ Myers. And these days when Sam Harris calls a communion wafer a "cracker," it's really tame when compared to how O'Hair referred to the cross (at 0:32 in the clip below). She seemed depressed and even stooped to being a Communist before finding meaning in life through battling pervasive Christian social domination. But I can forgive her Communism, because she was truly a unique American, even if Wilson happened to be correct about her dogmatism.

UPDATE 12/24/10: Egad! I watched all six segments of Godless in America on the YouTube. I had not known that her life had such a grisly end. I had read on the pages of Skeptic about her mysterious disappearance, along with her younger son and adopted daughter (and actual granddaughter), but the story behind the disappearance is one of those true-crime creep-outs. Depressing. Incidentally, her elder son became a vociferously born-again Christian.

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