Indiana pizza place faces social media heat over gay wedding comments

Wes Warner (right) holds a gay pride flag during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Mo., on June 26, 2013. RNS photo by Sally Morrow
Wes Warner (right) holds a gay pride flag during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Mo., on June 26, 2013. RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Wes Warner (right) holds a gay pride flag during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling at Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, Mo., on June 26, 2013. RNS photo by Sally Morrow

(Reuters) A small-town, family-owned pizza restaurant in Indiana has aroused social media outrage after telling a local TV station it would support the state’s recently passed religion law by refusing to cater gay weddings.

The owners of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, about 20 miles southwest of South Bend, said in an interview with ABC-57 that their Christian beliefs would prevent them from serving up pies at same-sex weddings.

“If a gay couple was to come in and say they wanted us to provide pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say ‘No.’ We are not discriminating against anyone. It is just that is our beliefs,” said Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza.

The owners were not immediately available for comment. The restaurant was not open for business on Wednesday (April 1).

Critics of the restaurant’s policy quickly slammed the pizza place on the Internet by posting thousands of negative reviews on its Facebook page and popular restaurant guides.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the pizzeria had over 1,600 recent one-star reviews on Yelp that criticized its stance on gay marriage.

“Would Jesus eat here? I think not. The only thing they have on the menu is hate!” wrote Bill from San Francisco.

The online fury was not limited to bad reviews.

A website not affiliated with the pizzeria was set up using the company name as a domain and featuring a phallic-shaped pizza to be catered at gay weddings.

Indiana’s Republican governor, Mike Pence, responding to national outrage over the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said on Tuesday (March 31)  he would “fix” it to make clear businesses could not use the law to deny services to same-sex couples.

(Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas)

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  • Posted this to an earlier article:
    -in looking at those small trees in that very large forest, consider this:

    A store selling strictly produce grown without pesticides is approached by a group who want a certain type of vegetable, which they know the large farm down the street grows, but only through use of pesticides (because there is a bug that attacks it in its early stages). This group wants the veggie, but they don’t want to drive 15 miles to the stores that carry it (rural area). They like the convenience of driving a mile or two to the local organic market. The farm has been around for a long time. It’s kind of a fixture. It has clout in the neighborhood. There is pressure for the owner of the produce store to sell this product, but he does not want to because it goes against his beliefs (he only sells food grown without chemicals). Will this bill protect him and his business from being trashed, overrun, kicked out?
    *just walking around this issue

  • Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

    Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him . . .

    “Get out of our way,” they replied.

    “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge!

    We’ll treat you worse than them.”

    They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

    So, looking at what is going on in JUST Indiana, it is clear that the “story” of Sodom, is obviously not a myth. And the denial, that Sodom and Gomorrah is NOT about homosexuals OR homosexuality we have this rather stark reality:

    “Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you…

  • The gay uproar in Indiana is another reminder to those of us who adhere to traditional values that we must become more vigilant in protecting our families against the onslaught of militant homosexuals.

  • Best advertising that pizzeria ever had!

    A pizzeria in a middle of nowhere midwest suburb owned by someone with an Irish surname would most definitely have lousy food to begin with. [Coming from an East Coast snob living in an area with some of the best pizza on the planet]

    Obviously, nobody outside of a trailer park orders pizza for a wedding. So this was all just hot air to get noticed. Publicity s1uts.

  • Really @bqrq, are you serious? What about the gun-nut, racists Christian homophobes who have invented a version of Christianity (that’s you!) that looks nothing like the Gospels! I think you need to reconsider the word ‘militant’ here.

  • The (one-sided?) Reuters article left out some important information. RNS should have chosen a better source.

    There are two important items that readers need to know. Here’s the first one — that the pizzeria did NOT say that they wouldn’t serve gay folks. Read this:

    “We said we would serve anyone that came in that door, even gays,” Crystal told The Blaze. “But we would not condone a wedding. We would not cater to that.”
    — New York Daily News, April 1, as reported by Doyle Murphy.

    Secondly, there was an actual threat or invitation to do ARSON against the pizzeria. The Reuters article should have reported this as well.

    “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?”
    — tweeted by assistant softball coach Jess Dooley (again reported by Doyle Murphy).

    Bonehead Foolio Dooley was merely suspended, but a lot of folks would have been been fired for that kind of move.

    Anyway, now you know the full truth. Carry on!

  • I’m confident that I see the entire legal scope of this law, but fine, tell us what your example has to do with it.

  • Ophelia, I can’t directly respond to your last remark about beliefs (RNS, please adopt Disqus), but: your example about an organic farmstand being forced to sell a pesticide-grown vegetable would not fall under antidiscrimination laws, because: (a) it is not a religious belief, and even if it was (b) the laws and court cases in question are about customers, not particular goods and services. The bakers and florists allegedly refused a service to gay customers but offered it to straight customers. Your question is just a rephrasing of “What if I want a halal butcher to sell me pork??!!?!1!” The law wouldn’t force him to do that, it would force him to sell any offered meat to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

  • Wow Larry, that’s a lotta sympathy for people who lose or are about to lose their small businesses, their livelihoods, which they worked hard over years to build up for themselves and loved ones.

    But don’t worry, a lot of gay and pro-gay folks would agree with your cynicism there.

  • #Atheist Whacks – the sin of Sodom was NOT homosexuality! It was “…[Sodom] and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in their prosperity, and they gave no help to the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49).
    The attempted gang-rape of the angels who visited Lot in the city of Sodom was NOT homosexual love; it was an act of attempted rape by a group of bullies. The crime of rape is ALWAYS about control and power, and never about love.

    An almost identical incident (to the one in Sodom) occurred in Gibeah, when an old man of the city offered a male traveler shelter in his house for the night. The men of the city surrounded the house and attempted to gang-rape the traveler (Judges 19:22-24).

    The stories of Sodom and Gibeah are NOT a prohibition of homosexuality, they are moral lessons about what happens when we forget to love others and treat them with empathy, kindness, compassion, and respect.

  • Garson,

    an iconography business doing custom work gets an order for an ikon of MLK. The painters say MLK is not a saint according __, ___ and ___ … The customers shout discrimination and …

    An Orthodox beeswax candle making business (and I know one) who sells to church establishments gets an order from the Church of Satan, and refuses to sell to this church …

    the list is endless …

    Are all of these businesses guilty of discrimination?

  • I posted above but I will bring it down to where you are …


    an iconography business doing custom work gets an order for an ikon of MLK. The painters say MLK is not a saint according __, ___ and ___ … The customers shout discrimination and …

    An Orthodox beeswax candle making business (and I know one) who sells to church establishments gets an order from the Church of Satan, and refuses to sell to this church …

    the list is endless …

    Are all of these businesses guilty of discrimination?

  • O’Connor decided to go into a different business altogether when she decided to be a media wh0re. This was her resume tape. Publicity hound for well connected right wing bigots pays far better than owner of a pizza shop in a podunk midwest town.

    You are so jealous!

  • Ophelia, yes, I think the situations you describe would fall under antidiscrimination statutes, because they do claim discrimination on the basis of religion. One caveat: there may be carveouts in some jurisdictions for businesses that can prove they are specifically of a religious character. Something akin to the for-profit Christian wedding chapel in Coeur d”Alene Idaho a few months ago.

  • Kinda disappointing how many straight people are jumping on a bandwagon to condemn this random pizzeria to defend my “right” to demand a small pizzeria cater a wedding.

    Look, guys, the only time they said they’d discriminate is if they were asked to provide pizza to a gay marriage ceremony.

    No one in the LGBT community wants this random, small, local pizzeria to cater their wedding, JUST LIKE no straight person wants a random, small, local pizzeria to cater their wedding. Who REALLY wants crappy pizza for their wedding?!

    You’re defending our rights to a service NO ONE WANTS. Why?! We don’t want this service, you all really don’t have to trash this pizzeria. Why don’t you do some activism in the states that still forbid the whole gay marriage thing if you want to do something to actually help LGBT rights?? That would be useful. THIS is not of any use whatsoever.

  • Actually Lelee, the verse in 1 Corinthians is most likely referring to pederasty (adult men forcefully using young boys as prostitutes). There is a lot of ambiguity about the Greek word that is used and only a few biblical translations even translate it as homosexuality. This passage is talking about the law, and Paul goes on to say that “…everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial …”.

    The passage in Romans that you cited talks about ‘unnatural sexual relations’. Well, for heterosexuals, the unnatural would be homosexuality. However, for homosexuals, the unnatural would be heterosexuality. There is no prohibition against a person acting in accord with their own natural sexuality.

    I don’t find any biblical prohibition against homosexuality except in the old testament. However, as all Christians SHOULD know, we have not been under the old testament law since the ministry of John the Baptist, as Jesus himself said in Luke 16:16.

  • and where exactly is the proof, other than your predictable assumption, that the perpetrators were gay people? where is the proof that it was not done by antigay Christianists in yet another attempt to smear gay people? Where are the atonal gay organizations, or statements from individual gay people, that this was warranted?


  • So the sin of sodom was the sin of homosexuality, not forcible rape of strangers.

    Had the people of sodom accepted lot’s offer– you know how ever child deserves a mother and a father– and raped his daughters, would you now be complaining about the sin of heterosexuality?

    Thought not.

  • When you offer goods and services on the open market, you may not discriminate by serving some customers but not others on the basis of race, sexual orientation, etc. There is no requirement to cater to every whim of your customers by offering any specific products, and never has been. This bill does not protect the owner in the situation you describe, because he has never been in danger of such a situation.

    So, for example, a Christian baker could legally refuse to bake a cake in the shape of a Satanist symbol for a Satanist customer so long as they never baked such a cake for a non-Satanist customer, but they could not refuse to sell an ordinary cake to a customer on the grounds that he or she was a Satanist. All store owners can (and must!) pick and choose what goods to offer; what they cannot choose is who gets to buy those goods once they are offered for sale on the open market.

  • Your comment is featured—Congratulations, Garson … you hit the jackpot 🙂

    The point is … should anyone care to move ahead in the conversation … Roman Catholics are a “race” … they harbor distinct culture/practices—system of belief (whether Irish, Italian … ), and those of Judaism—identifying themselves how? In the United States of America, we are a blend (that melting pot), but many are still very much defined by their BELIEFS. These beliefs are at the heart of these issues, based on ______. So, are you going to slam everyone not in agreement with your views? or the the views of _______.

    Hey, I could care less on the whole marriage situation as I do not view Scripture in the same manner as most Religious.

  • Which is why I wrote this thing off as a shameless form of publicity seeking.

    It was mighty magnanimous of Ms. O’Connor that she would only discriminate under certain circumstances. 🙂

    Of course the Indiana law makes it OK to discriminate under all circumstances if you can claim God compels you to do so.

    Fourth Valley, gay marriage bans are pretty much ready to be wrapped up in the next few months. These new laws are the reaction to it. A way to get one last shot at discriminating against gays under the color of law before the inevitable push to include sexual orientation into civil rights laws.

  • It hasn’t gone out of business. It was temporarily closed amid the sh==storm they produced in the media. They are just trying to wait out the backlash they created.

  • Larry, I see a need for protection of and for “beliefs” beyond what everyone is shouting about on this issue. This is much too insulated. As America grows and diversifies and splits even more … why do you feel it of good Conscience to navigate law through one mindset? And I am referring to your rights as an Atheist, too, or whatever you wish to be called within 5 years.
    This is happening for a reason—it is purposeful. How do you know “race” won’t be redefined? If you were a business owner selling something unique, would you want to be attacked and your reputation destroyed at everyone’s whim? Anything can grow into danger if momentum starts.

  • Oh no no Fourth, you got it wrong. You see, this latest Gay Gestapo incident is VERY useful to the activists. You can’t show these Christians any mercy. Can’t show them any civility or compromise. Oh no. You must teach ’em a lesson.

    You gotta show these Christian small business owners that NONE of them are safe. Gotta show ’em that they’re gonna PAY THE PRICE, even losing their family’s incomes and livelihoods, if they don’t kowtow and surrender to the Gay Marriage Religion.

    Gotta show those Christians that ANY notions of them still having any constitutional freedom of religion & speech are totally GONE, totally KAPUT, if it involves saying or doing the ***slightest*** refusal against any overt or tacit personal participation in the acceptance of gay marriage.

    Bullying. Intimidation. Even an ARSON tweet, for heaven’s sake. Literally force ’em into hiding, like that pizzeria family.

    THIS is how they’re playing it, Fourth. That’s no lie.

  • Tell me the gays are not criminally bigoted and cruel in this case. The couple was asked a loaded question, and they just happened to answer truthfully. THIS is why the law is necessary. People need protection from blackmail tactics. How many Black businesses can be forced to serve KKK meetings? Go back to San Francisco, you intolerable bullies. Believe it or not, this couple’s opinion mirrors some 80% of the public………they just don’t openly say it.

  • Dear Cranmer,
    I characterize militant homosexuals as those who do not respect traditional moral values, and fail to consider the best interests of children and young people (other people’s children). Apparently, they do not care whether it is right or wrong, nor who get hurts. Do you know anyone in that category?

  • Let me get this straight, Ben. You’re saying that “anti-gay Christians” created what Larry correctly called a “sh==storm” against this pizzeria family (who willingly served gays & straights alike but merely stated publicly that they would not cater gay weddings because of their faith).

    You’re also saying that “anti-gay Christians” put forth that arson threat against the pizzeria, and that these same Christians’ motive for creating all this Devil Mess, was merely to “smear gay people.” Merely to frame or set-up the gay people for what happened.

    Seriously? Is that correct? I’m just asking.

  • I do. they’re called conservative, antigay Christians, starting with the word militant.

  • Seriously?

    No. I’m saying that your standard of proof is hearsay, Again, some media reports are your evidence. Not names, not arrests, spot statements of responsibility, not anything that constitute actual proof.

    not to mention: so a few gay nut cases called them. do I condone it? no, Do I deplore it? Yes. Does everyone I know do the same? Yes? Are their any gay organizations applauding it? No.

    So all you are doing is, one more time, trying to blame all gay people for the actions of a few.

  • @james Carr.

    Sure, i’ll tell you that. Assuming it wasn’tt people just like you calling the pizza people:

    some gay people, total a-holes, decided to act like a-holes.

    This proves to you that ALL gay people are a-holes.


  • Ben,

    James C lives in his own “hole” like a lifelong hibernating bear 😀

    But it is true, we do not have the facts on those pushing threats, or even most of the ones protesting. That’s another reason why I feel this is of an insulated view. Things get started and take off like a match set in a hay barn. If it can be kept from burning down the ability for people to think freely and with integrity, allowing room for a greater understanding from all parties invested in this … then good, otherwise, it’s repeating arguments. A third party voice is needed to moderate.

  • We already have it. Its called the first and fourteenth amendments. There is about 200 years of application involved with religious freedom issues to work with.

  • Doc if you hey didn’t want media attention for saying discriminatory things, they would have thought twice about sating them. One cannot complain of a sh1tstorm of ones own making.

    You are so jealous that they will get to speak in public for antigay political causes for money and you are here posting on a website for free.

  • How do you explain women still underpaid for the same work as men?

    How do you explain state reps hollering discrimination on IN when they are guilty of the same in other areas?

    Hmm… nope, I think it is a one way street and the herd rushes in for whatever they can get out of whatever is on the table … kind of like looting after …
    But like I said, this is purposeful … and expected.

  • Yes, that is true.

    “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?”

    — tweeted by assistant softball coach Jess Dooley (reported by Doyle Murphy of the New York Daily News.).

  • I don’t, start a lawsuit Put employers on the spot for it. The hardest part in these cases is proof. Was the work exactly the same?
    Were the people similarly qualified?

    Plausible non discriminatory excuses abound in most situations making it a tough row to how.

  • More insanity. We live in an insane world. It is obvious that you can believe whatever you want unless you are CHRISTIAN. If you are Christian then we can walk all over you and make you do what we want, what we think, not what you believe. It doesn’t matter what you believe. Really? We are in that last days. It was foretold 2000 years ago that we would go from bad to worse. “And they will call evil good, and good evil”. That is today!!!

  • You are upset that Christians can’t tell others what to do and force others to abode by the arbitrary rules of your faith. Poor pathetic baby. Do you need some cheese to go with that whine?

  • We can go one step further. She posted stuff like that on purpose in the scheme to raise money from uncritical bigots like yourself. We have a motive, opportunity and method here which makes a ton more sense than yours.

    She has already pocked half a mil and was only closed for a day or so. Probably more than she would gross in a few years.

    Doc, how does it feel to be such an easy mark?