For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Seaver, Executive Director
Center for Inquiry-Michigan
Phone: (616) 262-0345
October 10, 2011
The Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, MI, cancels Center for Inquiry–Michigan event with biologist Richard Dawkins because of his atheist philosophy.
Prejudice against atheists manifested itself again when The Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, Michigan (outside of Detroit), cancelled an event with scientist and author Richard Dawkins after learning of Dawkins’s views on religion. The event had been arranged by the Center for Inquiry–Michigan (CFI), an advocacy group for secularism and science, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
The Wyndgate terminated the agreement after the owner saw an October 5th interview with Dawkins on The O’Reilly Factor in which Dawkins discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.
In a phone call to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan, The Wyndgate’s representative explained that the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.
Although privately owned, The Wyndgate facilities are open to the public for special events and occasions. According to Title II of the Federal Civil Rights Law of 1964, “open to the public” means “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
After learning of the owner’s last-minute refusal to allow Dawkins to speak, CFI–Michigan asked the owner to reconsider his position, but this attempt to resolve the issue amicably was met with silence. The event, scheduled for Wednesday, October 12, will now be held at a different venue.
“It’s important to understand that discrimination based on a person’s religion—or lack thereof—is legally equivalent to discriminating against a person because of his or her race,” said Jeff Seaver, executive director of CFI–Michigan. “This action by The Wyndgate illustrates the kind of bias and bigotry that nonbelievers encounter all the time. It’s exactly why organizations like CFI and the Richard Dawkins Foundation are needed: to help end the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever.”
The Center for Inquiry is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization working to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI is based in Amherst, NY, with branches in Grand Rapids, MI, and sixteen other U.S. cities. CFI is home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. Learn more about CFI at www.centerforinquiry.net.
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