Pizza Parlor Closes due to RFRA Protests but Rallies via Crowdfunding

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April 2, 2015; TIME

After the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, businesses and organizations throughout the state (and those with just a presence within the state) hurried to distance themselves from the new legislation. The outcry was strong and swift, which eventually led Governor Mike Pence to sign amendments to the act yesterday.

However, in the face of all this activity, one business showed their gratitude for the ability to discriminate granted to them by the RFRA. That was Memories Pizza, owned by the O’Connor family in Walkerton. When the legislation hit, Chrystal O’Connor went on the record to say that, although they would never deny service to a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion just coming in to eat, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” citing their firmly held religious beliefs.

“We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything,” says O’Connor.

The backlash against the O’Connors was, as one could imagine, rather swift. Yelp reviews excoriating the family for their position sprung up rapidly, and the owners allege that they have since received complaints, prank pizza orders, and even threats over their position. Since it’s hard to run a business in the face of this kind of outcry, Memories has suspended its business operations—at least temporarily, as the owners told Fox News that the restaurant would eventually reopen, although they were not sure when.

However, in a not-altogether surprising turn, the O’Connor family has become a cause célèbre of the conservative world for their stance. A crowdfunding campaign affiliated with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has apparently raised more than $500,000 to help “relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith.” The massive sum was raised by more than 17,000 people over the course of a day.

The power of the conservative community to rally in support of someone whom they felt was unjustly pilloried was demonstrated most recently with the funding campaigns to help Officer Darren Wilson of Ferguson, Missouri, which outstripped the corresponding fund for Michael Brown’s family. Although the fates of a police officer and that of a pizzeria are hardly comparable, they both demonstrate the power of a national public backlash and a dedicated base of financially motivated supporters.—Jason Schneiderman

  • FemEagle

    Governor Pence of Indiana, Governor Hutchison of Arkansas, and Walmart are all getting ripped to pieces on their Facebook pages as well. And it serves them right.

    Apparently the message people of conscience and faith sent in the mid-term elections wasn’t loud and clear enough. Concerned voters and true Americans need to send a louder message in 2016 – by voting Hutchison, Pence, and every single Democrat out of office – or at least reduce their number so drastically they can no longer support the tyrannical 3% (the actual number of homosexuals in this country, according to a study conducted by the CDC in 2014) in their quest to oppress religious liberty.

    The GoFundMe campaign for the O’Connors is but a small demonstration what we can do when we band together.

  • flafreethinker

    Once again religious beliefs cause problems. This pathetic owner displays their uneducated beliefs as something to be proud of. Isn’t it time to eradicate all religion from this planet and put an end to hatred, intolerance and bigotry? It is the 21st century. Why does anyone still believe in myth and superstition? The dumbing down of this country is on display with this story.

  • Edward

    It all smacks of a convenient ruse to get a boatload of cash from some rubes. This family knew their comments would draw negative attention from one quarter, and then the desired “oh, those poor good christians” from gullible throngs willing to cough up cash. Like any self-respecting gay person would want some pizza place catering their wedding? They’re gay, not tacky hicks!

  • We live in the movie Idiocracy

    The same Christians that supported them financially are the same Christians that want to murder people for working on the “Sabbath” because “god” said so in the Bible.

  • Jackson

    What happened to non-biased reporting?

  • rene

    May the Lord Bless you , your Family and your Business for standing firmly for your Belief and in Christian Faith . Such an amazing and righteous living in the days of abomination . In later days , the righteous will be shine among the wicked and that’s what exactly happening now ….

    May the Lord protect you and Bless you ….
    I am so proud of this Business … !!!

  • R. Eaton

    What are the chances that this “income” will be hidden from the IRS?