Even the Receptionist Was Surprised at How Richard Dawkins Was Treated

Richard Dawkins was supposed to speak about his new book The Magic of Reality at the Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, Michigan last night… but, as you know by now, the owner canceled the event (after the contract was signed) after finding out that Dawkins was an atheist.

Kimberly Danner is a student at Oakland University, close to where this all went down as well as the school Dawkins is visiting later today.

She spoke to an employee at the country club last night. This is how it went:

Today, Richard Dawkins will be giving a lecture from 1:00-2:30p at Oakland University. After hearing about his recent incident, I am embarrassed beyond belief. We are extremely grateful of this once in a lifetime opportunity and have worked very hard to provide a memorable visit for Dr. Dawkins.

Yesterday night, I gave a friendly phone call to the country club to ask a few questions. I asked the receptionist why Richard Dawkins was cancelled and she replied, “I don’t know… We have so many events all day, every day, and all weekend,” the receptionist stated. She has been an employee of this country club for 13 years but this is the first time she’s seen discrimination like this happen.

“No information was provided to me,” she stated. She mentioned that she hadn’t noticed any protestors (see below), read any of the current news, or watched the local news regarding the situation. “We were not informed of this change,” she stated. She offered to forward me to manager Joe Tignanelli’s voicemail at the country club. When I requested his email address she declined by saying, “I’m not really comfortable sharing that with you in light of what you are telling me.”

They are usually open until 9:00p unless there is an event. I made the phone call around 7:00p and was told there were no other employees there. She also advised me to call the Royal Park Hotel (where the Dawkins event was relocated) because they might have more information for me.

(It seemed odd to me that someone who supposed had “no clue” what was going on did know where the event was relocated…)

Incidentally, American Atheists held a last-minute protest at the Wyndgate last night. No word yet on how that went…

There is also a petition making the rounds calling for an apology for anti-atheist discrimination from the Wyndgate Country Club.

Finally, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wonders what the outrage would look like if Dawkins happened to be a Mormon.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mujica.alex Alejandro Mujica

    It’s an important story to cover in that it shows it doesn’t matter whether conservatives are rich or poor; they can always discriminate against non-theists. 

    • http://www.freedomloversacademy.com/ Kristina

      Just wanted to mention that not all conservatives are theist. Atheist non-discriminating conservative here.  Meh. 

      • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

        So there’s at least two of us! :-)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

          Three

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

          Three

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=690756125 Rob Durdle

    Little research, apparently Joe is used to doing whatever he wants.. This is from a  Hostile Workplace/ Sexual Harassment  lawsuit he was part of..

    “Joseph Tignanelli, suggested that employees who made complaints should be prepared to look for other employment.”

    http://law.justia.com/cases/michigan/court-of-appeals-unpublished/2010/20101209-c287151-32-287151-opn.html <-orginal doc

    http://www.lexisone.com/lx1/caselaw/freecaselaw?action=OCLGetCaseDetail&format=FULL&sourceID=bcehb&searchT  <- Plain text

  • Anonymous

    If you are getting kicked out of a country club, you must be doing something right.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

      Yeah, my wife is a CPA and was under pressure from coworkers to join a country club in our area. She’s from Russia, so I had to clue her in as to the types of  folks that go to places like that. You couldn’t pay me enough to rub elbows with that type.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    I live close to Rochester Hills. Have to say that I’m not surprised. If it’s outside of the Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County area, discrimination of one form or another is almost a 100% certainty in Michigan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1278244088 Chris Luckritz

    From Michigan and went to Oakland, loving what these students are doing over at OU, only wish the Atheists at OU was there when I went there.

  • Sesoron

    “After hearing about his recent incident, I am embarrassed beyond belief.”  That was either very clever or a hilarious accident.

  • Anonymous

    “There is also a petition making the rounds calling for an apology for anti-atheist discrimination from the Wyndgate Country Club.”

    petition? Am I wrong in thinking what was done is illegal in the USA?

  • Anonymous

    There has to be a high ranking (and large donating) member that made a stink about this.

  • Erp

    The receptionist is the one lower level employee who definitely should know where the event is relocated if the management has an ounce of sense.  They want to make sure anyone who shows up looking for the Dawkin’s event is promptly sent to the correct location (unless the upper management wants them hanging around and being upset and disturbing the other customers). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-McLaughlin/100000447965254 Chris McLaughlin

    I helped to organize and participated in the protest. You can see a great news story on the topic and one that also shows our little protest demonstration here: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/the_edge/rochester-hills-country-club-cancels-richard-dawkins-appearance-20111012-ms


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