Pizza joint that offered to pray for its clients ceases trading

Pizza joint that offered to pray for its clients ceases trading April 26, 2018

A sign in the window of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, informed customers that the Christian owners – Kevin and Crystal O’Connor – would offer prayers for anyone who wanted them.
The sign read:

Every day before we open the store we gather and pray together. If there is something you would like us to pray for, just write it down and drop it in the box and we will pray for you also. Let us know when God answers your request.

The sign got national attention when, back in 2015, the business owners became embroiled in a row about sex-sex marriage. When O’Connor and his daughter Crystal made clear that their religious beliefs prevented them from catering for gay weddings, there was an immediate backlash.
Protests and death threats led the store to close for eight days, but the owners subsequently received a flood of donations – more than $800,000 – after Glenn Beck’s right-wing TheBlaze network backed the O’Connors and set up a GoFundMe account to support them.
O’Conner said at the time:

That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?”

Reporting this week that Memories had gone out of business, South Bend Tribune noted that  Indiana at the time was already in the national spotlight for its controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed off by then Governor Mike Pence. Critics said the Act would allow businesses to openly discriminate against the LGBT community, but O’Connor was a reportedly keen supporter of now-Vice President Pence’s legislation.
In the midst of the Memories Pizza controversy, a Concord High School coach was fired for posting online a comment about burning down the shop.
Several locals and business owners in Walkerton declined to speak publicly about the closing of godly enterprise. But some said privately they didn’t think the pizza shop’s closure was a result of the 2015 controversy. The owners, they said, were simply ready to retire.

And speaking of homophobia, PinkNews reports that former Tory MP and staunch Catholic Ann Widdecombe, above, has criticised Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for expressing their support for the decriminalisation of homosexuality across the Commonwealth.
Sixth-in-line to the throne Harry and his wife-to-be made a splash at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this month when they met with LGBT activists who are fighting for an end to persecution in Commonwealth countries.
Thirty-six Commonwealth countries still criminalise homosexuality, predominantly under anti-gay penal codes that were imposed during the British Colonial era and never repealed, but Prince Harry told the activists:

It’s time for us all to acknowledge that your inclusion and protecting everyone’s rights – including LGBTI rights – benefits everyone.

Markle also told the group that she believed LGBT equality was about “basic rights” that everyone should enjoy.
This infuriated Widdecombe, a strong opponent of LGBT rights who hit out at the pair in a column in the Daily Express.
Widdecombe wrote:

My doubts had grown [about Markle] when reports appeared in the press about how she and Harry were going to champion the rights of the LGBT community.
First, royals don’t champion ‘rights’: they champion plights. That is what Diana did with victims of AIDS and landmines and very effective she was too.
Rights are the business of politicians and pressure groups and never more so than when they are controversial.

Widdecombe added:

Second, what a week for any royal to join in the argument when the Commonwealth conference was in full swing, the position of Prince Charles as its future head was in delicate negotiation and some of its bishops were voicing concern about their countries being pressurised by Theresa May on the issue of LGBT rights. So nought out of 10 for both phraseology and timing.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Widdecombe report)

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  • barriejohn

    Widdecombe would like to see the return of Section 28. Remember this?
    Some interesting names mentioned there!

  • AgentCormac

    Let us know when God answers your request.
    My, those responses must have just kept flooding in!
    And as for the vile old hag that is Widdecombe, since when did she become an expert on what the royals can and can’t do? Orf with her head!

  • barriejohn

    AgentCormac: The trouble is, if they really think that their prayers will be answered, then they will find those answers. I’ve seen it myself. It’s total self-delusion, and no amount of reasoning can shake their faith that God has “done wonderful things for them”. Look at all the people who have been healed here (comments) by an old friend of ours!

  • Broga

    Widdecombe seems to suffer from the delusion that she has a mature contribution to make to any discussion. Doesn’t she do some kind of dancing? I wonder what makes her competent to pronounce on anyone else’s sexual preferences?

  • Stuart H.

    I’m guessing the bishops Widdlecrumb refers to are the same ones who pressure their own governments to introduce the death penalty for gays.
    Pondlife like that are hardly the voices any Commonwealth leader needs to listen to, are they?

  • 1859

    @Barry D: Is that really a pickie of The Widdecombe Witch? She’s ghastly – and always has been. As for her comments – they are even worse than her looks – they have always been dripping with religious misery and self-righteous bigotry. She has always filled me with disgust. I would burn her at the stake.

  • Gary Gissing

    I don’t think you’ll publish my comment, but I really want to get this off my chest.
    As a convinced atheist and a True freethinker, I must say that this despicable practice of harrasing and intimidating Christians who do not wish to serve their gay customers is utterly disgraceful and is a violation of those Christian’s freedoms.
    Strangely enough, we never see “freethinkers” attacking Muslims for their Halal slaughters, Jew-hatred, child marriages, Gay-hatred, barbaric misogyny, or even their well-know suicide bombings and Jihad-against-infidels attacks.
    Do something worthy of the title “Freethinker” !

  • Laura Roberts

    As revolting as the O’Connors’s bigotry may be, I am disgusted if indeed they received death threats for it (though I wouldn’t be the least surprised if they invented that bit). Let violence remain the domain of those with no reasonable recourse.

  • Barry Duke

    @ Gary Gissing: Type the word “Muslim” into the Freethinker search box and you will see that we routinely carry reports which show what an utterly vile religion it is. We don’t led Judaism off the hook either.

  • Barry Duke

    Yeah, 1859, that’s really her. Her face would terrify a police horse on a foggy night.

  • barriejohn

    Barry: That pic’s giving me nightmares. She’s actually younger than me!
    PS I wonder precisely when this bigot “chose to be heterosexual”? I’d love to know!

  • barriejohn

    Gary Gissing: Threats of violence are out of the question, but can you imagine the uproar if these people were refusing service to potential customers on grounds of race or gender? They are the ones who are ramming their religion down people’s throats, and setting themselves up as smug, superior, self-righteous paragons of virtue, and treating other members of society as lepers. If they don’t want to treat everyone equally, then they shouldn’t be operating a business like a pizza parlour. Don’t the religious ever think things through?

  • Gary Gissing

    You say “can you imagine the uproar if these people were refusing service to potential customers on grounds of race or gender? ”
    Yes, I can imagine the uproar, but I vehemently maintain nobody has a right to disrupt their business or attack the business owners. People can freely boycott their business and bring about their failure in this way, if they want. But there should be no harassment, persecution, or threats. I believe in libertarian freedoms. As long as they don’t pose a threat to other members of society, especially vulnerable children, there is no ground for punishment.
    You say “They are the ones who are ramming their religion down people’s throats, and setting themselves up as smug, superior, self-righteous paragons of virtue, and treating other members of society as lepers”.
    No, they are not ramming their religion down people’s throats. Ramming religion down people’s throats is killing children in concerts or raping young girls because they are “infidel” “whores”. Ramming religion down people’s throats is beheading the “infidels”, forcing people to eat Halal meat, mutilating unsuspecting children’s genitals, or forcing women to be their fathers’ and husbands’ slaves.
    All these Christians did was to refuse to serve their gay customers. I personally despise this behaviour as much as you do, but it doesn’t give me the right to force them to behave like me. I could boycott them or ridicule and mock them, but I have no right to impose my morality on them.
    Again, you have no right preventing them from operating their business. We can boycott/shun them. We can laugh at their beliefs and bahaviour. BUT, it’s not up to us to decide whether they can operate a business or not.
    If I wanted a Moral Police or a judicial system that punishes “wrong” views (which is what our modern snowflake society and CPS strive for), I’ll move to Iran with its barbaric and vile theocratic regime. Just look at this news and see what true horror and repression is:
    A man has been sentenced to DEATH for insulting , in a Facebook post, a 7th-century charlatan psychopath who murdered thousands of innocent men, enslaved thousands of women and children, and sanctified child marriages and terrorism.

  • barriejohn

    Gary Gissing: “Ramming religion down people’s throats is killing children in concerts or raping young girls, blah, blah, blah.” So that makes “mere bigotry” OK, does it? As someone whose life was literally ruined after being ensnared by “harmless” Christian fundamentalists just like these (racist and misogynistic as well as homophobic), I beg to differ. As a gay young Christian, I came very close to suicide on several occasions, so please don’t insult objectors to bigotry with that ridiculous epithet “snowflake”, so beloved of Daily Mail readers since it first came to prominence. Bigotry and discrimination need opposing wherever they appear, and if we don’t oppose such behaviour, we too will eventually be facing the sort of barbarity that we see in countries like Iran and Pakistan. They are free to believe what they want, and pray to whatever imaginary being they wish, but it’s outrageous that the sort of discrimination that they practised is not against the law in Indiana. That’s not “religious freedom”.

  • Gary Gissing

    I’m afraid you’re no different from those people who want to impose their values on others.
    “Snowflake” is a perfectly rational and descriptional word. Just because someone at Daily Mail uses it doesn’t make the word “ridiculous”(I won’t even discuss your irrational Guilt-by-association-as-an-ad-hominem fallacy)
    You say “it’s outrageous that the sort of discrimination that they practised is not against the law in Indiana. That’s not “religious freedom””.
    No, it isn’t outrageous. They did not make laws or use government or other means of coercion to enforce their values. All they did was to refuse to serve gay people. It is THEIR business. I’m sorry but you have absolutely NO right to corce them into accepting your values.
    Lastly, I completely sympathise with your struggles as a gay man. But, you should know as a freethinker that freedom of thought and freedom of speech are inseparable Simaese twins.
    The Freethinker is supposed to be the voice of atheism, not the voice of Left-wing, Daily Mail bashing politics.

  • andym

    My definition of a “true Freethinker” would include being equally opposed to the influence of all religion. GG only seems concerned with one of them.

  • Gary Gissing

    You’re not a true freethinker if you think you have a right to criminalise other people’s beliefs as long as those beliefs do not threaten the security of public. It’s such a childish delusion to link opposition to homosexuality to religion. I’ve known many atheists who do not approve of homosexuality. As long as they don’t make it a law to repress gay people, they are absolutely free to have their own opinions.
    Don’t make general assumptions based on a comment. If Christianity or Judaism was as harmful and backward as Islam is right now, I will oppose those religions too. It’s a false equivalence to put all religions on the same level. If you knew about the history of Islam, all its doctrines, and the bloodshed and oppression Muslims are causing around the world, you wouldn’t make such simplistic and childish comments. In their hatred of Christianity, some people are driven to glorify the even more barbaric cult called Islam for the sole reason that it’s anti-Christian too. No, an enemy of your enemy is not your friend !

  • barriejohn

    All they did was to refuse to serve gay people.
    I’m throwing in the towel!

  • Gary Gissing

    Throw in towel, rug, shirt, whatever you want.
    It’s called a PRIVATE businesss. If I despise their beliefs and practices, I can only boycott them. I cannot coerce them to conduct their PRIVATE business in accordance with my values.
    End of story !

  • barriejohn

    “End of story”? No. They’re providing a service to the PUBLIC. Can’t you see this?

  • barriejohn
  • cnocspeireag

    Obviously GG can’t see it. I think you are wasting your time there B.

  • Broga

    barriejohn: When my wife, an atheist, was working as a doctor a Jehovas Witness was discovered to have a grotesquely deformed foetus which had no hope of surviving. The consultant wanted to follow the usual and sensible system of removing the foetus. The mother, in huge distress, pleaded to be allowed to have the child born. The mother knew all the implications.
    My wife, and a nurse, offered to see the child through to its birth when, of course, it would be dead. The baby was born, grotesquely deformed, the mother hugged the baby and was happy. The consultant said he had never seen a birth with such a deformed baby where there was so little trauma to the parents.
    Hard to believe? A fiction to make an atheist doctor look good? My wife wrote the experience up in “The Practitioner.” It is still there but a long time ago.

  • tonye

    Methinks that may have been a troll…….

  • barriejohn

    Not everyone thinks that I have lost my marbles at last, then!

  • ray metcalfe

    tonye me thinks the same.
    I am not o fan of any royal family but the fact that Harry as come out in support of the lbgt rights in the commonwealth as put him and mega up slightly in my view. I do have a serious complaint though, Who decided to put that picture of the odious Anne in the article as it is Friday evening I was enjoying a bottle of innis and gunn I almost sprayed my computer screen with it when that picture assaulted me

  • Derek matthews

    A real lack of tolerance on display in the comments section.
    Freedom of thought and freedom of speech must be upheld regardless of how ugly it is; the alternative is a closed mind and closed thought and leads to tyranny and the risk of Marxism.

  • 1859

    @barriejohn: I guess what GG is afraid of is becoming just another bigot himself – which I can understand. The saying ‘if you fight too long against the dragon you become the dragon’ is apt here. A non-violent boycott of a business that uses religious belief to discriminate between which customers to serve, is acceptable to me. However, to criminalise such fundies just turns them into martyrs who will cry persecution to the rooftops. A private business does serve the public and should do so without discrimination. However, if they do discriminate – on whatever grounds – turn around and walk away. Let financial bankruptcy symbolise their moral bankruptcy.
    And no, you still have very good marbles!

  • barriejohn

    The owners discriminated against gay people. I wouldn’t deny them freedom of speech, nor the right to support anti-gay causes if they wish, but they overstepped the mark. The following article is right on the ball:

  • barriejohn
  • David Fleming

    Whatever happened to the $800,000 the pizza joint got from the GoFundMe gig. Is that what the owners retired on?

  • Gary Gissing

    Thank you for your calm and detached comment. @barriejohn has too much personal history and can’t see that his fanatical attitude is no different than intolerant religious bigots. People like these 2 religious cretins, owners of the pizzeria,should be shunned or ridiculed.
    I won’t respond to other disgraceful comments suggesting I’m a troll just because I disagree with the illiberal attitude of harrasing and policing other people conducting their own PRIVATE business.

  • barriejohn

    Oh, fuck me; I’m “fanatical” because of my “personal history”now! Businesses aren’t “private”, and most civilized societies don’t allow them to discriminate on grounds of race, gender, sexuality, and so on. It seems quite simple to me.

  • Gary Gissing

    No need for vulgar language.
    Fanatic= a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter.
    Your irrational and over-the-top reaction toward these two people calls for the word “fanatic”. If you don’t understand the concepts of Private business and Civil liberty, then there is no point in further argument. People are not obliged to abide by your views. You have the same one-sided, autocratic mentality of fundies. This kind of attitude does a disservice to the Gay community.
    Even though I think the pizzeria’s conduct is deplorable, I am really glad that we don’t have an atheist equivalent of Sharia Police or SS.

  • barriejohn

    Gary Gissing: You don’t even begin to understand the feelings of the people who have been discriminated against on the grounds of their sexuality. Do you take the same view of the Civil Rights movement? Should black students have “boycotted” schools and universities that discriminated against them? That would have had a great effect, I’m sure. I’m afraid it is YOU who fails to grasp the concept of civil liberty, so don’t accuse me of doing “a disservice to the gay community”!

  • Gary Gissing

    You’re incapable of reflecting on your authoritarian attitude. These 2 idiots refused to cater for gay weddings. As much as I despise their action, it’s their business and no one has any right to harass them or criminalise their non-violent conduct because it might hurt your “FEELINGS”. My first perception of you being a snowflake was right. You expect people to watch their behaviour in case it might hurt your “feelings”.