Michigan venue cancels Dawkins event

Richard Dawkins is currently touring the US promoting his children’s book, The Magic of Reality, and was scheduled to speak in Michigan in an event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. But the venue, Wyndgate Country Club, has now changed its mind and canceled the event. Why?

The Wyndgate terminated the agreement after the owner saw an October 5th interview with Dawkins on The O’Reilly Factor in which Dawkins discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.

In a phone call to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan, The Wyndgate’s representative explained that the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.

…How do you not know that Dawkins is a raging atheist? I mean, I feel like that should be general knowledge by now anyway, but you think you would double check who a speaker is before you agree to host them. You know, instead of canceling an event solely because someone is an atheist, which is just going to give even more media attention to those terrible atheists.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s the clip of Dawkins on O’Reilly. See how much of it you can bear to watch:


  1. fastlane says

    Does that mean we have to watch it naked? ;-)

    Typos, the devil’s volleyball. Or something like that.

  2. abadidea says

    Wow. Imagine if a generic event-hosting center canceled something because a speaker was a Christian. Imagine the absolute living hell the churches would raise.

    And here’s a guy trying to promote a scientific literacy book for children… and someone doesn’t want to associate with that.


  3. Sithrazer says


    It’s a (mostly) private golf club, so despite it being right up the road a jaunt letters from the public won’t do any good to change the owners mind.

  4. Muir says

    I made it to about 1:30 in the video before I stopped it to protect my computer from my rage. O’Reilly seems to have that effect on me.

  5. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    My favorite part is where O’Reilly goes “AHA!!!!” and Dawkins gets this look like “oh please, you insufferable buffoon.”

  6. nightman2112 says

    Let me get this straight; the owner watched THAT video, and the person he was disgusted by was Dawkins? Wow. Just…wow.

  7. astrobiologiste says

    Bill O’Reilly is a douche: He’s irritating, unnecessary and potentially dangerous…

  8. elronxenu says

    “the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.”

    Yeah, because of Stalin, and all those people Dawkins murdered in the name of big-A Atheism … oh hang on, Dawkins reviles Stalin as a mass-murdering tyrant and Dawkins didn’t actually kill anybody.

    Does Dawkins have any comeback regarding this cancelled contract? Can he sue for damages or lost revenue? Or will this merely be remembered as yet another example of Christian intolerance to differing opinion?

  9. Francisco Bacopa says

    All I gotta say is that Texas has had bad drought since the winter. The Hitch, Dawkins, PZ, and Thunderf00t showed up in Houston Saturday and all Texas was drenched with rain. Much better results than Perry’s prayers.

    Deny Dawkins and face drought.

    Maybe Dawkins can find an alternate venue. Perhaps an independent bookstore. I used to work at an indie bookstore in Houston that survives off of author events. We processed 400 customers in a James Baker event and 700 for Anne Rice, and this was a day after Rice had done an event at a gay bookstore two blocks away.

  10. Lena says

    Sorry to go all conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that O’Reilly and the other FoxNews buffoons are either atheist, agnostic or are the type of christians who go to church twice a year and don’t give religion another thought. But they know that the easiest way to make shitloads of money is to cater to the beliefs and emotions of stupid people.

  11. BCskeptic says

    O’Reilly has got to be the biggest moron on the planet, and I guess Dawkins goes there to be brow-beaten by that moron for the exposure for his book. How he can stand to be in the same room with that puffed-up moron is beyond me. How do you reason with a buffoon?

  12. JD says


    I cannot see how anyone can watch O’Reilly with out screaming out in RAGE.

    The interview has nothing to do with the BOOK. The only reason Dawkins was asked on the show was so O’Reilly could rant and rave…. grrrrr

    THESE are the people that make me violently against religion and Christianity specifically.

    I LOVE my friends that, while they do have faith, they also love science. PLUS, while they feel concern for my non-belief, they do not SHOVE their’s down my throat.

  13. Otranreg says

    The funny thing is, it was during Stalin’s rule, when active persecution of religions virtually stopped, and a forced exclusion road was taken and adhered to later on: de jure, whatever persecution was now officially deemed unconstitutional, but de facto it clashed with the ideology of the Communist party, and if you weren’t a Communist or at least in good standing with the Party, you’d never amount to anything, so it meant that openly religious people and especially clergy (which to a large extent brought this onto itself) were outcasts in Soviet society, not being able to make careers or get good non-ecclesiastical education.

    The big fat irony is that there are far right-wing people in Russia today, who are Stalinists while being Orthodox Christians (or even Muslims), and I’ve seen web-sites that try hard to find whatever proof there is to show that their favourite decomposing moustached pal and their beloved imaginary bearded matey were actually best friends.

    Anyway, whenever I hear about persecution of the religious in the Soviet Union, I look up this picture:


    Left to right: Brezhnev, then-head of the Russian Orthodox Church Pimen I, the guy that’d become his successor (Alexius II), and head rabbi of Moscow.

    I don’t see Brezhnev holding a whip, or the other three looking too persecuted. Maybe something naughty happens below the belts? :)

  14. Erp says

    Not Dawkins but CFI does. It is a country club but when they rent facilities to the general public as they do they become a public accommodation and cannot legally discriminate on the grounds of religion (or lack thereof). They didn’t just refuse service but signed a contract then broke it.

    Note that the owner almost certainly isn’t involved in the day to day managing of the club but instead would have an employee, such as a club manager, who would sign most contracts, etc.. I hope that employee didn’t suffer also.

  15. Rawnaeris says

    Fuck me that was painful. I only made it 1:33 in. I would have thought an interview like that would fall under Dawkins’ “Don’t debate believers” rule.

    Oh, and at severe risk of repeating myself: Don’t forget Tim Minchin, he was in Dallas Saturday–the start of the rain coincided with the start of his show.

  16. hoverfrog says

    “Insufferable buffoon” is such a good phrase that I intend to use it in conversation today. Thank you.

  17. hoverfrog says

    Dawkins remains polite and informative throughout. If O’Reilly had actually allowed him to say anything more it might have been interesting. In fact it would have been interesting if O’Reilly had just shut up and left.

    As for the country club I think they are doing the right thing. A bit of atheist-phobia does wonders for grabbing headlines and will probably mean more headline space for Dawkins to promote his book. the only losers are the Wyndgate Country Club who stand out as intolerant and bigoted. I think that they should be sued to really keep the headlines going (and because they are in the wrong).

  18. benlever says

    The thing I’m struck with is how…non-firebrandey Dawkins was. I know he’s never been as shouty as his opponents make him out to be, but it always surprises me when I see him in situations like this to see how quiet and polite he is.

    Honestly he was almost TOO polite – O’Reilly’s jackassery would have been child’s play for him to dismantle, and as infuriating as his bullshit was, the fact that Dawkins let so much of it slide by unmolested kinda compounded that for me.

  19. ben says

    Thats the first ive seen of O’Reilly. I managed to make it through the entire video – primarily because i was aghast the entire time.
    Australian media isn’t good by any stretch… but holy shit, that guy is a raving looney – how the hell is he not laughed out of his tv studio ?

    On a side note – will we be seeing you (Jen) at the 2012 Athiest convention in melbourne? You dont appear to be on the speakers list…. i would have thought you would have been a shoe in!

  20. says

    Stalin actually prefered Lysenkoism to Darwin which is like supporting homeopathy over medicine. Darwin’s theories were not particularly liked.

  21. tfkreference says

    I too thought that Dawkins was calm and measured throughout, not falling for any of the red herrings thrown out. The most provoking thing he said was “Judeo-Christian myth,” and he didn’t dwell on it.

  22. Pete Knight says

    “how the hell is he not laughed out of his tv studio ?”

    Because he and Faux News cater to a sub-set of humanity, in the UK we call them Sun readers!

  23. Ganner says

    To echo what’s being said, the contrast between the calm and cool Dawkins vs the image of the “firebrand out to convince you you’re an idiot” is stark. He’s considered an abrasive ass because of what he thinks, not how he says it. If you dare to say “God doesn’t exist, there is no good reason to believe God exists, and there no reason to believe any of the religions out there are true,” you’re a “dick.”

  24. John Horstman says

    Ooh! This is all sorts of messy from a legal standpoint. Is this a public or a private business discriminating on the basis of religion?

  25. echidna says

    As I understand it, not messy at all. The privately owned club advertises the use of its facilities to the public, therefore the anti-discrimination laws apply. The fact that the facility is privately owned is irrelevant, just as a privately owned coffee shop open to the public can’t discriminate on racial or religious grounds.

    Refusal of service is one thing, you could always say the facility was unavailable, but there was a contract in place that was broken.

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