SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: “How Atheist Campaigner Madalyn Murray O’Hair Became America’s Most-hated Woman” / The Guardian ☮

This week, the film The Most Hated Woman in America comes to Netflix, with Melissa Leo playing Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist who campaigned against the church’s influence in public and political life (the title comes from the headline on a 1964 interview with her in Life magazine). While Murray O’Hair is not widely known outside of the US, she had an extraordinary life. Long before the likes of Richard Dawkins, she gained notoriety for helping to push bible readings out of schools, and in 1963 she founded American Atheists. It’s a group that is still going today, campaigning against Donald Trump’s plan to abolish the rule that forbids religious institutions, among other charitable organisations, from getting involved in political activity and funding). For the next few decades, Murray O’Hair devoted her life to campaigning against the church’s power. She was a contentious figure, and when she disappeared in 1995, along with her son and granddaughter from their home in Austin, Texas, that too was controversial.

h/t: Continue reading . . .

A true-crime biopic about the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of the “American Atheists” and pioneering firebrand in the political culture war, The Most Hated Woman in America captures the rise and fall of a complex character who was a controversial villain to some and an unlikely hero to others.

The film stars Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo, Josh Lucas, Adam Scott, Vincent Kartheiser and Juno Temple, and was directed by Tommy O’Haver from a script by O’Haver and Irene Turner. Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman and Laura Rister produced.

The Most Hated Woman in America premieres on Netflix on March 24, 2017.

RURAL, WHITE, CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM: “On Rural America: Understanding Isn’t the Problem” / Forsetti’s Justice / MUST READ ☮

White Christian Fundamentalism

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides-”Democrats failed to understand white, working class, fly-over America.”  Trump supports are saying this.  Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this.  Even  some Democratic leaders are saying this.  It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem.  The real problem isn’t east coast elites don’t understand or care about rural America.  The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out.  They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because the don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites.  I spent most of the first twenty-four years of my life deeply embedded in this culture.  I religiously (*pun intended) their Christian services.  I worked off and on, on their rural farms.  I dated their calico skirted daughters.  I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons.  I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop.  I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epitaphs that were said more out of ignorance than animosity.  I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past thirty years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people.  The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

Continue reading . . .