William J. Murray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from William Murray (author))
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For the New York politician, see William J. Murray (politician).
William J. Murray
Born William J. Murray III
(1946-05-25) May 25, 1946 (age 72)
Ashland County, Ohio, U.S.
Occupation Author, Minister, Lobbyist
Organization Religious Freedom Coalition
Known for Murray vs. Curlett
Son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair
My Life Without God
Title Chairman
Children Robin, +1 more
Parent(s) William J. Murray, Jr.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Relatives Jon Garth Murray (half-brother)
Website wjmurray.com

William J. "Bill" Murray III (born May 25, 1946) is an American author, Baptist minister, and social conservative lobbyist who serves as the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. It lobbies Congress on issues related to aiding Christians in Islamic and Communist countries.

The son of the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair, known as an atheist activist, Murray was named as the plaintiff in his mother's challenge to mandatory prayer and Bible reading in public schools. After it was consolidated and heard as Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), the US Supreme Court ruled that mandatory Bible reading was unconstitutional. After becoming a Christian in 1980, Murray published a memoir, My Life Without God (1982), about his spiritual journey.


William J. Murray III (known as Bill) was born in Ohio in 1946, after his mother Madalyn Mays Roths had returned from service in Italy during World War II. His father was William J. Murray Jr., a married Catholic officer with whom she had an affair while they were both stationed in Italy. He refused to get a divorce. Also married at the time, Madalyn divorced her husband. She named the boy after his father. She also took the surname Murray.

Murray moved with Bill to Baltimore, where her mother and brother lived. In 1954 Bill's half-brother Jon Garth Murray was born. Their mother became an atheist activist when the boys were still young and attending public school.[1] In 1960 she gained national attention by filing a a lawsuit challenging the practice of compulsory prayer and Bible reading in public schools as unconstitutional. She named her son Willliam Murray III as plaintiff. The Murrays' case, Murray v. Curlett, was folded into Abington School District v. Schempp before the Supreme Court of the United States heard the issues. In 1963 it ruled that mandatory Bible reading in public schools was unconstitutional. The year before it had overturned the practice of mandatory prayers in public schools.

Murray III later worked in various industries in the private sector, including the airline industry.[2] He had a daughter Robin with his high school girlfriend, who stayed with his family after running away from home.

In 1980 Murray became a Christian. Learning of his conversion, his mother commented: "One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times. He is beyond human forgiveness."[3] He became a Baptist minister.[citation needed] He and his mother Madalyn Murray O'Hair were estranged by his action, as he was from his daughter and brother, who shared his mother's household and were deeply involved with the American Atheists organization. O'Hair had legally adopted Robin. She was legally both her uncle Garth's niece and half-sister.

In 1995 his mother, Murray's daughter Robin, and his half-brother Jon Garth Murray disappeared from their home and office. It was learned that they were kidnapped, held for about a month, and subject to extortion of $600,000 before they were killed in a remote area outside Austin, Texas. Their bodies were not found until January 2001.[4] The plot was led by David Roland Waters, an ex-convict and former employee of the American Atheists, who had been fired for theft of $54,000; and two accomplices. [5]



  1. ^ Robert Bryce (4 June 1999). "Preying on Atheists". Austin Chronicle. 
  2. ^ Interview by Vic Eliason with Bill Murray in early 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emrr-fQLYl0 the 20 minute, 50 second mark
  3. ^ Dracos, Ted (2003). UnGodly: The Passions, Torments, and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Free Press. p. 138. ISBN 0743228332. OL 7927528M. 
  4. ^ Ross E. Milloy, "Bodies Identified as Those of Missing Atheist and Kin", New York Times, 16 March 2001; accessed 16 September 2018
  5. ^ John MacCormack (10 July 2003). "True Confession". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 

External links[edit]