Quelle:  Original text appears at Atheists.org

  IN MEMORIAM of the O'Hair Family   January 1988


John Garth, Madalyn & Robin
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 by Frank R. Zindler

How can one find words to express the enormity of the tragedy that has been visited upon the Atheist community? How can insentient traces of ink on paper bespeak the sharp-edged prick of pain, the throbbing ache of grief, or the dull and numbing sense of emptiness felt by those of us who were close comrades of Madalyn Murray 0’Hair, Jon Garth Murray, and Robin Murray-O’Hair? It is now more than five years since the “First Family of Atheism” disappeared from their home in Austin, Texas, and at least four years since most of us drew the intellectual inference that some awful fate had befallen them. 

It is over a year since we learned with near certainty that they had been kidnapped, extorted, probably tortured, brutally murdered, dismembered, and buried ignominiously in a wild and windswept grave on a ranch outside San Antonio.  

 Even so, the passage of time has been insufficient to strengthen us to withstand the emotional implosion triggered by the recent discovery of their charred remains. None of the intellectual analyses of the past year could steel our nerves to the terrible reality that three brilliant minds have been extinguished forever; three courageous hearts shall never beat again; and three comrades whom we loved and admired shall never again visit our homes, offer us encouragement at times of self-doubt, or stir us to action in imitation of their selfless toil. Nor could the passage of time really prepare us for the emotional reality that we now are on our own in the fight against superstition and religious encroachment - both upon the governmental domain and upon the private sphere of conscience.

Never again shall we have their animating leadership, their astute advice, or the example of their often valiant deeds. We really are on our own now. It is up to us to continue the struggle against the benighted forces that seek to enslave the American mind, abolish the progress achieved by science, and return us to the Dark Ages of Faith. Murders - especially the violent and brutal sort - are the type of thing one sees in movies or on television, the kind of thing one glances at on the teasing cover pages of supermarket tabloids. Murders do not touch our lives. But to the contrary, murder has struck down three human beings who for some of us were practically family. We yearn to know what their last hours were like, yet dread to discover the truth.

We struggle to comprehend how lives so filled with promise and achievement should be snuffed out like candles in a sudden draft, how persons who have done so much to liberate the minds and elevate the aspirations of their fellows should come so startlingly and senselessly to naught. The incomprehensible injustice of these deaths shall haunt the innermost reaches and recesses of our minds like a ghost no exorcist can expel.

Greater even than the dream of Martin Luther King were the dreams of the Murray-O’Hairs. Their dreams incorporated all the laudable goals of Dr. King, but amplified and extended them to all of humanity. Beyond that, they had a dream that no individual life should ever again be placed in jeopardy by the reality-testing failure known as religion, nor should the survival of our species be endangered by deluded minds pursuing a cosmic will-o’-the-wisp.

No one ever again should be forced to surrender mentally to the slavery of supernaturalism. No one ever again should be forced to pay taxes to support an invisible kingdom known only by the say-so of its parasitic ambassadors, the clergy. Never again should the world be thrust into the Dark Ages. Never again should faith vanquish reason. They dreamed that the divisiveness and hatred fomented by religions would be overcome by rational minds no longer willing to do evil when given the command “Thus saith the Lord.” They dreamed that all of humanity, if they could but shed the darkling lenses and blinders of theology, would see more clearly the path of enlightened self-interest and would realize that peaceful cooperation is more desirable than warfare and strife.

They held the hope that humanity would realize before it was too late that they are one with nature, brothers and sisters of the humblest animals, and fellow travelers with them on this spaceship we call Earth. Such were the dreams of the Murray-O’Hair family, and such are the dreams of those of us who honor them by carrying on their work.

The world is a measurably better place because they lived, and America honors the First Amendment of its Constitution ever so slightly more because they fought in its defense. The immortality of Madelyn, Jon, and Robin is not that of liberated souls “that naked on the Air of Heaven ride,” but rather that of perishable mortals who, “departing, leave behind us / Footprints on the sands of time.” For more than that they never hoped.

For all of that we pay them tribute. For all of that we honor their memory and resolve that the death of their bodies shall not mark the death of their dreams. We who carry on shall dream the dreams they can no longer dream.

Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by American Atheists.

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