Outspoken atheist scientist Richard Dawkins accused a country club outside of Detroit of cancelling his planned speaking event at a fundraising dinner due to his view of religion.
The $95-a-plate dinner event at Wyndgate Country Club on Wednesday was organized by the Center for Inquiry, an advocacy group for secularism and science, along with the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
But Dawkins accuses the country club of cancelling his appearance last week because of his Oct. 5 interview on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.
"This is sheer bigotry. If the country club had said, 'I'm not having Dawkins speak because he's a Jew, or because he's black, or because he's gay,' they would never get away with it," Dawkins told the Detroit Free Press.
CFI on its website said that a Wyndgate representative explained to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan in a phone call that the club owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins or his philosophies. No Wyndgate representative has given clarification on the matter.
Dawkins, a former Oxford professor, shifted his talk to another hotel nearby on Wednesday. He also is scheduled to speak Thursday at Oakland University and at the Birmingham Temple, a Jewish humanistic center, on Sunday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Atheist websites were quick to pounce on the incident. They have condemned the club for denying a scientist the opportunity to speak despite the booking. Wyndgate Country Club is privately owned but it rents out its premises to the public for special events.
CFI-Michigan website carried an article of the incident. Executive director of CFI-Michigan Jeff Seaver said, “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.”
Further he accused the club, “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.”
Dawkins has on different occasions called the church many names, including "the greatest force for evil in the world." His 2006 bestseller The God Delusion, was described as a declaration of war upon mainstream religion in a review. He has remained a vocal critic of God and the church and has written several books to prove his theory. He also holds talks and seminars to advance his theories in many countries.
In the latest incident, Dawkins said what allegedly happened to him is part of a general prejudice that atheists face in society, a prejudice he tries to counter by speaking out.
"It clearly violates the spirit of the Civil Rights Act," he asserted, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Dawkins accused conservative Fox News host Bill O'Reilly of making it seem like his new book was “atheistic propaganda aimed at children.” He claims he was promoting science and not atheism on the show.
Officials of the Detroit country club chose to believe O’Reilly “rather than reading the book,” Dawkins claims.