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[Update - statement from CfI ]Secular Group Charges Michigan Country Club with Religious Discrimination

Update 30-Apr
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
Country Club Owner Did Not “Wish to Associate” with Atheists
A national secular advocacy group is bringing legal action against a Michigan country club for religious discrimination and breach of contract after it cancelled an event because of the attendees’ lack of religious beliefs.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI), a national organization advocating on behalf of science and secular values, is suing the Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, Mich., and its owner, for violation of the Civil Rights Act and for breaking its contract with CFI’s Michigan branch. The Wyndgate, denying use of its public accommodations entirely on the basis of religion, cancelled a scheduled CFI-Michigan event to be held October 12, 2011 that would have included an address from British scientist and noted atheist, Prof. Richard Dawkins.

In breaking its contract, the Wyndgate justified its actions by stating that “the owner does not wish to associate with certain individuals and philosophies,” referring to the “philosophies” of Prof. Dawkins and other nonbelievers. The cancellation notice specifically referenced Prof. Dawkins‘ October 5, 2011 appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, during which Prof. Dawkins’ atheism was central to the conversation.

“This was to be an opportunity for friends to gather, enjoy each other’s company, and hear from one of their favorite authors, an internationally renowned professor; but the Wyndgate opted to breach its contract simply because atheists would be taking part,” said Steven Fox, Legal Director for CFI. “If this kind of discrimination had been directed at any religious group there would rightfully be no end to the outrage. The fact that the victims are nonbelievers makes it just as wrong, just as unacceptable, and just as unconstitutional—and we will not let it stand.”

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization based in Amherst, New York; it is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is

Update 29-Apr

Center for Inquiry Michigan atheist group sues Wyndgate Country Club for canceling speech by Richard Dawkins

KENTWOOD, MI — An atheist group that sparked debate in West Michigan last fall over the necessity of God and religion has made good on their vow to sue a Rochester Hills county club for canceling an appearance by author Richard Dawkins.

The Kentwood-based Center for Inquiry-Michigan, a chapter of the nationwide atheist group, filed suit in federal district court Friday against the Wyndgate Country Club for allegedly denying use of the facilities to the public based on religious beliefs.

The complaint calls for unspecified damages based on breach of contract, and that the club be stopped from discriminating against others on religious grounds. The group is asking for a jury trial.

The suit alleges the club violated Title II of Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Michigan Civil Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination in public places based on religious beliefs — or lack thereof, claims CFI Michigan.

Read more

Detroit— A Rochester Hills country club that canceled an appearance last fall by an internationally known atheist was sued in federal court Friday.

The Center for Inquiry-Michigan, an organization dedicated to secularism and science, sued Wyndgate Country Club for allegedly denying use of its facilities to the public based upon religious beliefs.

The center wants unspecified damages and to block the country club from discriminating against others for religious reasons, according to the lawsuit.

A club official could not be reached for comment immediately Friday.

The lawsuit stems from the country club canceling an appearance by internationally known atheist and author Richard Dawkins in October.
Read more

The "Rochester Hills country club" incident was posted here last October when Richard Dawkins was supposed to speak there.



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