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.
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.
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)