O'Hair's son describes ex-lifestyle Murray holds Hampstead revival

June 01, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Amid applause, cheers and shouts of "Amen," William J. Murray testified Sunday night to a crowd at Hampstead Baptist Church about how he became a Christian on Jan. 25, 1980.

The former atheist and son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair -- the woman who successfully fought to have mandatory prayer removed from public schools in 1963 -- said of his former lifestyle and his conversion:

"I was taught that self-indulgence was the golden rule. The more alcohol you could drink, the more women you could have sex with, the more fancy cars you could drive, the more food you could eat was all the better, because when you die, you'll be worms' food anyway.

"I'm not saying that lifestyle doesn't work. It does work for rich, white males. But even those people eventually drop out of one of those categories. . . . life begins to take its toll or society puts you behind bars."

But Mr. Murray said telling of his conversion was not the only reason for his visit to Carroll County. The 47-year-old evangelist said he was also raising support for the revival he's planning in Baltimore for June 17, the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on prayer in schools.

"I wanted to mark that historical anniversary and put it in the perspective of what has happened in the schools of Baltimore and American schools," he said.

"Thirty years ago 80 percent of Baltimore was churched [attending church] and it was an extremely conservative city, politically and spiritually.

"Now 80 percent of the city is unchurched," he said.

If the revival is successful, Mr. Murray said, his organization will make it an annual event.

"How we will mark the change is if over the next 30 years, Baltimore can be more like the city it was 30 years ago," Mr. Murray said. "That won't happen in one night."

For about the first 10 minutes of his testimony, Mr. Murray promoted his revival at the 12,000-seat Baltimore Arena, T-shirts advertising the event and the four books he has written.

"Every major network will be there," he said, adding that several major newspapers are expected to cover the revival. "With all this national media attention, we need to show the concern of the Christian community.

"We need the place to be full, and your telling someone about it will do 10 times more than all the advertising we've bought," he told the congregation.

Radio commercials on several Christian stations, television commercials and newspaper advertisements have been purchased to announce the event, Mr. Murray said.

Ms. O'Hair does not speak to him, and his conversion to Christianity has nothing to do with the rift in their relationship, Mr. Murray said.

"It would be nice and clear-cut if Christianity had something to do with it," he said. "She wasn't speaking to me for years before I became a Christian."

Their split is based on control, Mr. Murray said.

"She will not speak to people she cannot control, and she was unable to control me," he said.

"I am not the type of individual who wants my home in someone else's name, my car in someone else's name, or my telephone in someone else's name.

"I don't want an allowance to go to the grocery store, or someone to threaten to turn off my electric if I'm not a good little boy. I don't miss that at all."

Mr. Murray said he also does not hear from his 40-year-old half-brother or his eldest daughter, who is in her 20s. Both live with Ms. O'Hair.

In contrast, his 15-year-old daughter sings at many of his speaking engagements, Mr. Murray said.

"She is a born-again believer," he said of his youngest.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.