A secularist group has claimed victory in its lawsuit against a Michigan country club for canceling an event that would have featured atheist advocate Richard Dawkins as the speaker.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI), headquartered in New York, announced on Tuesday that the case has been settled for an undisclosed sum in the group's favor against Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, Mich., which CFI said canceled the event because it discriminated against atheists.
"This is an important victory for nonbelievers in the fight for equality under the law, one that makes clear that discrimination based on a lack of religion is just as unacceptable as discrimination in any other form," said CFI in a statement posted on its website. "In fact, this is perhaps the first time that federal and state civil rights statutes have been successfully invoked by nonbelievers in a public accommodations lawsuit."
Messages left for Wyndgate Country Club requesting comment were not returned by press time.
The event featuring Richard Dawkins was to occur in October 2011 at the Wyndgate Country Club and the lawsuit was filed by CFI in April of 2012. According to CFI, Wyndgate justified breaking its contract by saying "the owner does not wish to associate with certain individuals and philosophies." Dawkins claims that the country club canceled his appearance at the event because of his Oct. 5, 2011, interview on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," where he discussed his book The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True.
Despite Dawkins being a top proponent of atheism, he is believed to have led many people to God in an effort to get them to not believe that God exists. Evangelist Ray Comfort is among those who believes that Dawkins has led many to God in spite of his attempts to do the opposite. Comfort has had encounters with Dawkins and recently recruited Christians to engage in debate with atheists on Facebook .
According to its website, CFI states that "its mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values." It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism.