A rumor has been circulating since 1975 that the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a widely known, self-proclaimed atheist, proposed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consider limiting or banning religious programming.

These rumors are untrue. In December 1974, Jeremy D. Lansman and Lorenzo W. Milam filed a petition (RM-2493) asking the FCC to inquire into the operating practices of stations licensed to religious organizations, and not to grant any new licenses for new noncommercial educational broadcast stations until the inquiry had been completed. The FCC denied this petition on August 1, 1975. Ms. O’Hair was not a sponsor of this petition.

Since that time, the FCC has received mail and telephone calls claiming that Ms. O’Hair started the petition and that the petition asked for an end to religious programs on radio and television. These rumors are false. The FCC has responded to numerous inquiries about these rumors and advised the public they are not true. There is no federal law that gives the FCC the authority to prohibit radio and television stations from broadcasting religious programs.

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Religious Broadcast Rumor Denied Guide (pdf)


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Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, October 25, 2016