Meet Murray’s New Book — Same as the Old Book

William Murray, the fundamentalist evangelist son of the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, has a new book out. Naturally, the Worldnutdaily is helping to promote it. And predictably, it’s just the same old litany of tired Christian right arguments about how terrible it is that they can’t force kids to pray in school anymore.

“Fifty years after the removal of prayer from America’s public schools in a case brought by my mother, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, there is virtually no safe place in America for children of any age, not in their schools, not even in their homes,” said William J. Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition.

It was on his behalf that his mother filed a lawsuit claiming compulsory prayer and Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional.

The ruling, released by the U.S. Supreme Court June 17, 1963, allowed God no further place in public schooling, triggering a plunge from a time when chewing gum was a major problem to schools plagued by drugs, violence and sex that need to be protected by armed guards.

*Yawn* Really, is that the best they can do, a bad post hoc argument with nothing to support it? Yep, it is.

“If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights,” he explained. “Fifty years ago, prayer and Bible reading represented the authority of God over the school, the teachers and the students. Bowing of heads in the morning for prayer was much more about surrendering to the authority of God than about learning ‘morals.’”

There are two statements here, one absurd and the other repulsive. This notion that if rights come from God they can’t be taken away is just silly; even if you believe that the Bill of Rights was written directly by the hand of God, has that ever stopped the government from violating them? This God that allegedly gave us those rights never actually does anything to prevent them from being violated, so it’s clearly false to claim that they can’t be violated if they come from God.

The second statement is simply vile. Murray and his fellow theocrats really do believe that the government has the legitimate authority to force school children to “surrender to the authority of God.” It’s difficult to imagine a more blatant violation of the First Amendment. If forced prayer is not a violation, what possibly could be?

And like his mother, Murray likes to pretend that he was far more important to those Supreme Court rulings than he really was. There are two rulings involving prayer, Engel v Vitale in 1962 and Abington v Schempp in 1963. The first one involved forcing students to recite a state-composed prayer each morning; the second involved mandatory Bible reading and the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer every morning. The Murray family had nothing to do with the first one and their suit was subsumed beneath the second one because it was filed earlier. Even if they had never filed a suit, the result would have been exactly the same.

11 comments on this post.
  1. Randomfactor:

    there is virtually no safe place in America for children of any age, not in their schools, not even in their homes,”

    You’d think their god could do something about that. No?

    their suit was subsumed beneath the second one because it was filed earlier.

    I thought Murray was filed earlier. But SCOTUS didn’t want to give the win to “that woman.”

  2. Sastra:

    “If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights,”

    Ok, let’s say for the sake of argument that “rights come from God.” How do we determine

    1.Whether God exists?

    2.) Which version of God is the right one?

    3.) Which interpretation of which version of God should we take?

    4.) Which moral rules hold under what circumstances?
    5.) What the ‘rights’ are, who has them … and who has lost them?

    Sounds to me like a simple majority would have a lot of power here. Divine power. You’re giving God’s authority to human beings.

    Which, ironically, is the exact opposite of what you want to do.

    Everything starts going to hell in a handbasket when God decides it needs to “hide” from obvious and general recognition so that it can find out who really, really loves Him and who doesn’t — because the ones who pick Him out of the camouflaged line-up have amorous psychic powers, I guess. That part’s not too explicit..

  3. lynxreign:

    He says “If rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights”
    So doesn’t that mean that if the simple majority vote, or whatever other process, voids those rights, then they can’t have come from God in the first place because rights coming from God can’t be taken away? Any “right” that has ever been taken away or voided can’t have come from God, so what is he complaining about?

  4. Modusoperandi:

    Now, look, you know darn well that the only way kids will voluntarily come to the LORD is if we force them to.
    And also mandatory prayer and bible readings are a good way to draw a firm border, distinguishing Our Tribe from The Other.

  5. Modusoperandi:

    Sastra “Sounds to me like a simple majority would have a lot of power here. Divine power. You’re giving God’s authority to human beings.”
    No. God is giving His Blessed Power to us, His Followers, to use justly and wisely, as He would do if He existed. That He wants Us to put Unpopular Minorities under His Iron Heel is a heavy burden for Us to bear, but His Will must be followed, less we bear His Wrath for not clamping down on freed ladyparts and the queers. And also He likes tax cuts, pollution and war. Because shut up, that’s why.

  6. Kevin:

    Um…it takes quite a bit more than a simple majority vote to amend the Constitution.

  7. thisisaturingtest:

    When you testify in court, or assume a governmental office, you’re “sworn” in, either to tell the truth or to fulfill the duties of the office legally and responsibly. But this is a legal fiction (and the fact that affirmation is a legally acceptable alternative to an oath just reinforces this point)- it’s a mechanism by which the government can exact legal, earthly penalties if the truth is not told or the office is abused; the government doesn’t really give a damn about god’s penalties because government can’t impose them.
    Same thing with “God-given rights”- it’s a semantic difference that makes no difference, a fiction that is only real or meaningful to those who need to believe it to begin with. Whether the rights are “god-given,” “natural,” or granted by government makes no practical difference when it’s government that recognizes and protects them. Anybody can assume any “God-given” right they want; the right is only real if it’s acknowledged by men.

  8. lofgren:

    the only right given to you by god is the right to die fighting for something important. everything else is your local cultural tradition.

  9. Pseudonym:

    That’s the insidious thing about fundamentalism. It never really leaves you even if you lose the thing you were fundamentalst about.

  10. No One:

    Iron chariots & Majority votes. The Jewish god is such a powder puff.

  11. holytape:

    here is virtually no safe place in America for children of any age.. Well what about churches? God is still allowed there. They should be safe for little boys and girls….. oh wait.

Leave a comment

You must be