In 1980, William Murray was baptised at a Baptist church in Dallas, where he took up work as a preacher. This led to a permanent estrangement between mother and son. As she put it, "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."[26] As Murray tells it, his atheism was enforced from childhood by a tyrannical, explosive and indifferent matriarch. Growing up in a household run by his mother and maternal grandmother (his father left when he was an infant), Bill says it was clear to him that his mother wanted only girl children: "One of her favorite stories—I've heard her repeat it many times—is that when I was born and the doctor told her, 'It's a boy,' she asked him if there wasn't some way he could put it back." Bill says he remembers her cruelties all too well: Once, in a fit of temper, she shattered a model airplane he had been working on for months—and another time she bit him so severely he still recalls the pain. "As a kid I won a baseball trophy," he says. "Two years later when she came across it she asked where I had bought it. I told her I'd won it, but since she didn't know or care that I played baseball, she didn't believe me. Her attitude was that if she couldn't see it or touch it or feel it, it didn't exist."

— Atheist Madeline Murray O’Hair disowns son  

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