Ashley Baxstrom: Richard Dawkins – evolutionary biologist, author and outspoken critic of religion – has been banned from a Michigan country club after they “discovered” that he is, in fact, an atheist.
Dawkins was supposed to speak tonight at The Wyndgate Country Club for an event co-sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values,” and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
However, when the owner of The Wyndgate – a privately owned facility which is open to the public for special events – saw Dawkins’ Oct. 5 interview on FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, he decided to terminate the author’s contract. The Wyndgate’s representative explained in a phone call to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan that “the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.” The event has since been moved to a different location.
Dawkins told the Detroit Free Press the club’s actions were “sheer bigotry.” Jeff Seaver, executive director of CFI–Michigan, reciprocated: “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.”
My question for The Wyndgate is what their plan was going to be for the rest of the event’s attendees if the CFI hadn’t cancelled the event. Were they going to poll individuals as the drove up to the front gate? “Excuse me sir, are you an atheist? Sorry, turn around.” “Ma’am? Secular humanist, you say! We’ll let it slide this time, but you’ll have to use the back door.”
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 … without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”