The pizza shop in Walkerton, Ind. — a small town of about 2,200 people about 20 miles south of South Bend — doesn’t look like the epicenter of a national controversy. The black-and-white linoleum and red booths are unassuming — the decor of any take-out joint anywhere in America. A Triple XXX Root Beer will set you back $2. It even has a piano — and a prayer suggestion box.
“Every day before we open the store, we gather and pray together,” reads a sign posted in the store, which also boasts numerous crosses, including one that says “Glorify the Lord.” “If there is something you would like us to pray for, just write it down and drop it in the box.”
But Memories Pizza — “a Walkerton mainstay,” according to local media, for more than a decade — is feeling the heat of a great debate about religious freedom and gay rights. Memories has been billed by a local ABC affiliate as the “first business to publicly deny same-sex service” after Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. Many feel the law, which advocates say is intended to protect religious freedom, will result in discrimination against homosexuals.
The affiliate was looking for reactions to RFRA — and it made some memories at Memories.
“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor, one of the proprietors of Memories Pizza, told ABC 57 on Tuesday night.
To be clear: No one has reported that Memories has actually denied service to anyone. The owners even told ABC 57 they wouldn’t refuse service to a gay man or woman — they would only refuse to cater a gay wedding. But TMZ reported that Memories temporarily closed its doors after being met with threatening telephone calls and criticism on social media.
“STAY AWAY from this place,” one commenter wrote on Yelp. “DISCRIMINATION should not be tolerated in America.” One critic even reportedly bought the domain memoriespizza.com and posted a photo of a phallus-shaped pizza, as Daily Kos reported.
Memories also had its share of defenders.
“Cue the Gay Mafia,” another commenter wrote on Yelp. “The fact is, this business has the RIGHT not to provide any services to a ‘wedding’ event for gay or lesbian couples, something that goes against their religious beliefs.”
The dust-up has proved a windfall of sorts for Memories. A GoFundMe page called “Support Memories Pizza” set up to raise $35,000 for the embattled restaurant got more than $47,000 from more than 1,300 donors in nine hours.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Justin Wm. Moyer