Donations flood Indiana’s Memories Pizza after RFRA fallout

Michael Walsh
·Reporter

Donations are pouring in to Memories Pizza after it became the first business in Indiana to publicly support the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Lawrence Billy Jones III – a reporter for The Blaze, a conservative news site – started a GoFundMe page Wednesday to raise $45,000 for the family-owned pizzeria in Walkerton to “relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith.”

By 2:30 p.m. ET Friday, they had far surpassed their goal — raking in more than $722,000.

Countless people condemned the small business after co-owner Crystal O’Connor appeared on WBND-LD to discuss her support for RFRA, or Senate Bill 101, which critics say legalizes discrimination against gays and lesbians.

O’Connor claims she would serve gay customers but believes her Christian faith prevents her from catering their wedding receptions.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” O’Connor told the local ABC affiliate.

After the segment went viral, Memories Pizza closed temporarily due to threatening phone calls, social media messages, and Yelp reviews.

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Memories Pizza in Indian closed its doors because of the controversy. (CBS)

Dana Loesch, a conservative TV host on The Blaze, who helped kick off the GoFundMe page, interviewed O’Connor about what life has been like since the media firestorm broke out around her family.

“We’re very hurt and confused, and we stood up for what we believe,” O’Connor said. “The news just took it totally out of proportion. They lied about it.”

O’Connor told Loesch that her family is considering leaving Indiana and that they are not sure if it will be safe to reopen.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the bill into law last week, called upon lawmakers on Tuesday to provide additional legislation to “clarify” that Senate Bill 101 would not enable discrimination.

On Thursday morning, the Republican legislative leaders released an amendment that prohibits discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors. It also forbids businesses to invoke the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services.

But the new measure does not apply to religious groups, such as churches and their affiliated schools or religious nonprofits.

Both the House and the Senate still need to approve the changes so Pence can sign off on them.

Neither Memories Pizza nor Jones could be reached for comment.