Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana closed its doors this week after receiving a spate of threats in response to the owners’ statements that they would not cater gay weddings. The controversy is part of a larger national discussion about religious freedom laws in Arkansas and Indiana, which have been criticized as anti-gay.
Now the pizzeria has seen an upswell of support, raising more than $800,000 in two days through an account that conservative radio host Dana Loesch set up on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
The initial furor began early this week with comments that Crystal O’Connor and her father, Kevin, who co-own Memories Pizza, made to local TV news station ABC 57.
“If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say no,” Crystal said.
The comments appear to have been hypothetical, since Kevin O’Connor told the Daily Beast that he had never been asked to cater a gay wedding.
“I don’t turn anybody away from the store, I don’t have a problem with gay people. I just don’t condone the marriage,” he said.
The O’Connors’ comments prompted a deluge of negative Yelp reviews for Memories Pizza and even death threats directed at the family. Critics and supporters of the pizza joint also traded words over social media.
— RiskyLiberal (@RiskyLiberal) April 1, 2015
— Victor Sergey Nikkov (@hapkidobigdad) April 2, 2015
The GoFundMe account, titled “Support Memories Pizza,” initially aimed to raise $25,000 for the family. Thanks to social media attention and wide press coverage, though, roughly 30,000 donors contributed $842,592 over the course of two days. The page is no longer accepting donations.
Crystal O’Connor told Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto that she believes God is responsible for the support.
“God has blessed us for standing up for what we believe, and not denying him,” she said.
For the time being, Memories Pizza remains closed, but O’Connor told Cavuto that she and her father plan to reopen the restaurant.