WALKERTON, Ind. (CBS Cleveland/AP) — A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $800,000 for an Indiana pizzeria swirling in controversy following the owner’s comments about not catering gay weddings.
Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza says her family would serve a gay couple or a non-Christian couple at its restaurant in Walkerton, which is about 20 miles southwest of South Bend in northern Indiana.
But O’Connor tells WBND-TV that the restaurant would say no if a gay couple asked it to provide pizzas for their wedding.
“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” O’Connor told WBND.
The pizzeria received swift backlash following her comments on Yelp. Speaking to The Blaze, O’Connor doesn’t know if her family will be able to open the pizza shop back up.
“I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’ssafe to re-open,” O’Connor told The Blaze. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.”
O’Connor added that the media took her comments “out of proportion.”
“We’re very hurt and confused and we stood up for what we believe,” she told The Blaze. “The news just took it totally out of proportion. They lied about it. We said that we would serve anyone that walked in that door, even gays, but we would not condone a wedding. We would not cater that because it’s against our religious beliefs.”
Following O’Connor’s appearance on Blaze TV, Lawrence Jones — a contributor to Blaze TV — started a GoFundMe campaign.
“So we set up a GoFundMe page with the modest goal of $25,000. The intent was to help the family stave off the burdensome cost of having the media parked out front, activists tearing them down, and no customers coming in,” Jones wrote. “Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family’s plate as the strangers sought to destroy them. But other strangers came to the rescue and the total just keeps going up. Thank you for helping us do some good for this family who were scared and in hiding just 24 hours before this writing.”
More than $800,000 has been raised as of Friday afternoon.
O’Connor says the business reflects her family’s Christian beliefs. She says her family agrees with Indiana’s new law that prohibits any laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.
Police have stepped up patrols around the pizzeria following O’Connor’s comments.
Walkerton Police assistant chief Charles Kulp tells the South Bend Tribune that there was no trouble Wednesday night by the restaurant, which he says has received threats. He says they’ll have increased patrols as long as the threats continue.
Kulp says the family has closed the restaurant and likely won’t reopen soon. A call to a number listed for the restaurant went unanswered.
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