Hazards of crossing an atheist

Be careful the next time you offend an atheist, they might take you to court for discrimination.

Usually it’s the religious folks who are fighting for less discrimination, but there is a new trend starting. Freedom from religion has spurred many secular groups to find equality with religion or simply to remove religion altogether.

The Wyndgate Country Club recently lost a court battle with the Center For Inquiry (CFI) in the Richard Dawkins lawsuit. The club had the nerve to cancel an engagement with Richard Dawkins back in October of 2011 and in April 2012 CFI filed a lawsuit saying the club was discriminating against Dawkins because he is an atheist.

The country club’s event coordinator told CFI that the owner “does not wish to associate with certain individuals and philosophies.” This is primarily because of an interview Dawkins had with Fox News earlier that month, in which he talked extensively about his atheist views. However, the club stated later in the 2012 court papers that while the event was cancelled, it was not out of discrimination. In fact, they say this is just the CFI’s ploy to gain publicity.

The CFI is ecstatic after their victory in the case:

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. 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.

Who is right here? Is CFI embellishing the truth? Or should the Wyndgate Club have done a little more checking on public laws before deciding to cancel the event? One thing is for sure, Wyndgate didn’t think this one decision was going to make them pay out considerable funds a year and a half later.




4 thoughts on “Hazards of crossing an atheist

    • Livelysceptic, I try to keep as much of my personal opinion out of my posts as possible. (sometimes there are exceptions however: https://asecularusa.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/do-sandy-hook-victims-have-the-blessing-of-atheism/)
      But since you asked: I do think CFI has a good case for discrimination, especially because Wyndgate did say straight up that they didn’t want Dawkins because of his atheist beliefs. I wish Wyndgate had given a better explanation after the fact, it certainly doesn’t make them look good when they refuse to comment further. I do think the president of the club should have thought through his actions before making such a decision, especially if it would be made so public. The president has his own personal beliefs and that is fine, but I believe it is good to hear all sides of a subject before making an opinion and it seems as though he decided not to hear Dawkins’ side. That is my current opinion, barring more information of the case.
      I am eager for you opinion on the matter as well!

  1. If they had cancelled because they found out the speaker is black, it would have been discrimination. If they had cancelled because the speaker was Christian, it would have been discrimination. If they had cancelled because the speaker was a woman who spoke up for feminism – it would have been discrimination. If they cancelled because the speaker is gay and went on MSM – it would be discrimination. Why wouldn’t this be discrimination? That people have trouble seeing it as discrimination only goes to show how pervasive religious privilege and discrimination against non-belief is in the USA.

  2. I may be misunderstanding, but why is a country club obligated to invite anyone to speak? Discrimination does not mean being selective. It means denying what should be available to everyone. Not everyone is qualified or invited to be a public speaker for any particular gathering. Furthermore, organizations should have some right to be selective as to who is invited to participate in their activities. Gymnastics teams are not required to admit football players.

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