It's always surprising how much some people will do for pizza. Earlier this week, Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, decided to temporarily close its doors after co-owner Crystal O'Connor told news reporters that the establishment would not cater gay or lesbian weddings due to the family's religious beliefs, inciting heavy backlash in the community. By Saturday, however, it became clear that the establishment wouldn't be any worse for wear, despite the shuttering: during an interview with Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto, O'Connor revealed that the pizzeria had since received more than $800,000 in donations, calling the funds a blessing from God.
"God has blessed us for standing up for what we believe, and not denying him," said O'Connor on Thursday night. "[Gays] are welcome in the store — anyone is welcome in the store — but it's against our belief to condone [that lifestyle or behavior]."
When Cavuto pushed her further though, O'Connor seemed to stumble. "A lot of gay rights groups might say, 'How is that at all different from serving gay customers,'" said Cavuto. O'Connor seemed taken aback. "I'm not sure what you're asking," she replied.
They [your critics] say you have to be consistent — that you're not being consistent. You say you're happy to serve gays in your restaurant, as is your dad (the co-owner), but that you draw the line at catering ... they say you can't be "either/or", you have to be open to both or closed to both.
O'Connor replied, flustered:
It is not a sin that we bring gays into our establishment and ... serve them. It is a sin though if we condone — if we cater that wedding. We feel [then] that we are participating. We are putting a stamp of approval on their wedding.
O'Connor's latest commentary has once again provided plenty of fodder for the masses, many of whom do not oppose marriage equality. In a 2014 Gallup Poll survey for example, the number of Americans who approved of same sex marriage had reached an all-time high of 55 percent — the number who disapproved had dropped over 10 percentage points as well to a historic low of 42 percent.
As a growing number of Americans also begin to leave religion (a 2014 General Social Survey out of the National Science Foundation showed that nearly 7.5 million had left their respective religions since 2012), it's completely understandable that pro-LGBT protests in response to statement's like O'Connor's are also proportionately on the rise.
The comments have triggered a second wave of criticism at O'Connor's insistence that the donated funds were somehow a gift from God. "Good to see laid bare what God's priorities are," wrote one video commenter, who claimed he was also Christian. "Enrich a pizza shop, while letting millions of children starve to death, or be killed in warfare across the globe."
Since the pizzeria owner's initial commentary on Tuesday, waves of supporters have been dumping funds into a GoFundMe account in the family's name. In less than 48 hours, the campaign had amassed more than $500,000; at present the total stands at nearly $850,000 — that's a lot of dough to help soothe the family's Yelp-burns.
In the past week, O'Connor and her father have appeared on several talk shows, radio programs, and news outlets to defend her original statements. On Thursday, Kevin O'Connor appeared on the perpetually indignant right-wing Glenn Beck Program to provide an update on the pizzeria and his daughter's well-being.
"We're starting to get so much support, rather than that first explosion of negative [commentary]," said Kevin O'Connor, lamenting that in the hours after the original statements had aired, the pizzeria's phone wouldn't stop ringing. "Crystal's a little afraid, so we're going to give her some time [after re-opening] to work up the courage to go back in again."
As the chaos begins to die down, there's no doubt that Memories Pizza will likely begin attracting more business than ever from those in the anti-LGBT camp — and if it doesn't, at least the O'Connors will have God on their side.
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