“Most Hated Woman in America”Christopher Hitchens
, Sam Harris
, Richard Dawkins
— these are the names most closely associated with atheism in the United States. But this wasn’t always the case. It was in fact a woman who founded “American Atheists,” an influential organization dedicated to defending the civil liberties of atheists and the separation of church and state. Described as “the most hated woman in America” by Life magazine, Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s story is brought to life by Melissa Leo
in a new Netflix film, for which a trailer has just been released.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Murray O’Hair (Leo) asks as she bursts into her son’s classroom after hearing the children and their teacher recite The Lord’s Prayer. “In the constitution, there’s something called the First Amendment. The school board cannot force my son to pray — or anyone else,” she tells the class. When the teacher glibly suggests that Murray O’Hair sue the school board, she decides to do just that.
Rather than focus on the landmark court cast that followed, the true-crime biopic depicts Murray O’Hair’s disappearance, which occurred in 1995, more than 20 years after a Supreme Court ruling put an official end to Bible-reading in American public schools.
“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,” Netflix’s summary reads. The film co-stars Juno Temple
Scott (“Parks and Recreation
”), Vincent Kartheiser
”), and Josh Lucas
(“The Mysteries of Laura
an Oscar in 2011 for her supporting role in David O. Russell
’s “The Fighter
,” and received a nod in 2009 for her leading role in Courtney Hunt
’s “Frozen River
.” Her recent credits include Oliver Stone
,” “Wayward Pines
,” and Margaret Betts
,” which premiered at Sundance in January.
Directed by Tommy
O’Haver (“United States of Tara
,” “Ella Enchanted
”) and written by O’Haver and Irene Turner
(“An American Crime
”), “Most Hated Woman in America” hits Netflix March 24.
Trailer Watch: Melissa Leo
Is an Atheist with a Cause in “Most Hated Woman in America” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium
, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.