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Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s only Bible from 12-year-olds at Baptist church

TULSA, Okla. (BP)–It was Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s only Bible — sent to her in 1968 by a Sunday school class of 12-year-olds from Winnetka Heights Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla.
The small white children’s Bible was among the possessions of the famed atheist — who mysteriously vanished in 1995 — sold at a Jan. 23 auction in Pflugerville, Texas, an Austin suburb.
Bidding for the Bible started at $500 and ended at $2,000.
The inscription of the Bible read: “Presented to Mrs. Madelyn (sic) Murray O’Hair by the 12-year-old girls class at Winnetka Heights Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla., Dec. 15, 1968,” according to news reports.
Janet Elliott of Tulsa was one of those 12-year-olds in a class taught by Kit Oldfather, now deceased.
Elliott recounted Oldfather told the class of O’Hair’s efforts to get prayer and Bible reading removed from public schools.
“I can remember her talking about how, if she’s successful, that would be the start of the decline of the United States,” Elliott said of Oldfather’s fears related to O’Hair.
“A lot of children did not live in Christian homes,” Elliott recalled Oldfather saying, and prayer and a few verses of Scripture at school “would be the only exposure to God’s Word they would have.”
“We really need to remember this lady in prayer,” Oldfather said.
The girls’ class never got a response from O’Hair, said Elliott, who has been in Winnetka Heights church since age 5.
“It was the only Bible we found,” an Internal Revenue Service officer was quoted as saying after the IRS seized O’Hair’s five-bedroom home and its contents in 1997 to pay more than $250,000 O’Hair owed in back taxes and to various creditors.
It was the lone Bible among hundreds of books O’Hair owned on such subjects as sorcery, the evils of organized religion, weight loss and a myriad other subjects.
O’Hair, a plaintiff in the 1963 Supreme Court case that outlawed sanctioned prayer in public schools, was last seen at her American Atheists office in September 1995, when one of her sons, Jon Garth Murray, and her granddaughter Robin Murray-O’Hair also were reported missing. O’Hair’s 1985 Porsche was found at the Austin airport.
The O’Hair trio was traced through cell phone calls and bank records to San Antonio, where $500,000 was withdrawn from one of American Atheists’ bank accounts, The New York Times recounted Jan. 25. Speculation over the unsolved mystery of what happened to O’Hair and her son and granddaughter ranges from being robbed and killed to fleeing overseas, perhaps to New Zealand, where they reportedly had bank accounts. O’Hair was 76 at the time of her disappearance.
The successful bidder for O’Hair’s Bible, Austin lawyer Jimmy Nassour, told reporters it eventually may be sold to a museum.
The auction, which raised an estimated $25,000, was attended by 275 people who made cash deposits of $250 in order to submit bids.
Among other personal items of O’Hair sold Jan. 23: the Porsche and a penny and several $2 bills with “In God We Trust” crossed off. Bidders also picked through her needlepointing, collectible whisky bottles, bags full of clothing, dozens of boxes of books, stacks of videotapes and souvenirs from O’Hair’s trips around the world.
Yet to be sold, however, are O’Hair’s diaries, which officials hope will bring up to $100,000.
“Somebody, somewhere, love me,” she wrote at least a half-dozen times in the diaries, which were written from 1959-72 and 1989-95, according to various news reports.
Among other entries in the diaries:
— in 1977: “I think atheism is done for this time. I have failed in marriage, motherhood, as a politician. … At age 58, I have never had a bedroom of my own.”
— in 1973: a New Year’s resolution that included a yearning to “humiliate Billy Graham on television, for money.” Also: “I want money and power and I am going to get it. By age 50, I want a $60,000 home, a Cadillac car, a mink coat, a cook, a housekeeper. In 1974, I will run for the governor of Texas and in 1976, the president of the United States.”
— in 1959: “The whole idiotic hopelessness of human relations descends upon me. Tonight, I cried and cried, but even then feeling nothing.”
— in 1953: “This living is the pattern of it. Work, hope — dream, realizing there is not much hope the dreams will become realization. Yet always the future invites, promises.”
Michael R. Stick, who recently became pastor of Winnetka Heights Baptist Church, said sending a Bible to someone “may seem insignificant to some, but that is one of the greatest gifts we can give. The Scriptures contain the words of eternal life because they point us to Jesus (John 5:39, Galatians 3:24).
“Through the actions of a godly teacher and a group of young girls, God show Mrs. O’Hair the very thing she despised — his mercy, love and grace,” Stick said. “It doesn’t matter how insignificant our efforts may seem to others, God uses all that we do for his purpose. We can hope that Mrs. O’Hair read this little Bible, but we’ll never know this side of eternity the full effect of their evangelistic effort.”