Memories Pizza hate fest and our oh so small society

April 5, 2015

JessDooleyBurnFor over 150 years, the town of Walkerton, Indiana had remained quiet to the world. Known only to its people and the memories they’d made.

That was until Alyssa Marino, a young reporter for the South Bend ABC affiliate went on a fishing expedition for “small town” views on Indiana’s recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

And so it was, that 9 years in business Memories Pizza, a small pizzeria owned by the O’Connor family will most likely not see it’s 10th.

Why? Because co-owner Crystal O’Connor dared to tell said reporter: “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,”

And with that, Ms. Marino had her “story”, and the station could relish in the thousands of web clicks and Facebook likes churning out wads of advertising cash.

Never mind that in that same interview Ms. O’Connor clearly stated that they would never deny service to a gay couple or someone of another religion. The family just did not wish to participate in the act of gay marriage via catering the event. (That was buried at the end, long after the sensationalism hook was already set.)

By even the most basic of journalistic standards what should have been a non-story, was turned into a lead for the nightly news and the nucleus for unleashing one of the worst social media hate storms imaginable.

Concord High School girl’s golf coach, Jess Dooley’s taking to Twitter in search of others to join her in burning down Memories Pizza just one of thousands. (Dooley has since been suspended, pending investigation.)

Oh, and in case you’re feeling that “journalist” Marino was just doing her job objectively covering the “news”, 4 days before her ambush of the O’Connor family she tweeted on her ABC account: “If you stand against the Religious Freedom Bill, there are stickers available you can put on your business front.”

Directing the public to one side of an issue doesn’t exactly exude “unbiased, objective” journalism to me.

And certainly don’t bother to report the fact that not one RFRA law allows the media narrative of “denying service to gays”.

Not the federal, not the Indiana, not any of those on the books in 20 other states. All they do is allow a standing in court to use one’s religious beliefs as a defense. It does not guarantee success and it certainly does not allow on the spot denials of service by anyone – person or business.

And the price paid by the O’Connor family for Crystal expressing her moral and religious objection to participating in the act of a gay marriage?

Memories pizza is closed until further notice thanks to death threats from the oh so “tolerant” political left.

Is this really what we have become?

Are we truly so small of a society that people of faith, holding beliefs centuries old, must now renounce those beliefs for the sake of a political agenda? Bow to our will or we will destroy you, literally?

The militant gay left does not have to like people of deep religious beliefs, but if it ever wishes to be respected as a valid movement it needs to understand that allowing for reasonable accommodation on case by case basis will do them far more good than threats and intimidation.

But there is one positive to report: as of Friday afternoon a account established to help the O’Connor family weather the storm had already raised over $783,000 in donations.

Sadly, the founder of that page, Lawrence Billy Jones III, now finds himself under attack.

Such is the state of “tolerance” in America today.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the Sunday, April 5, 2015 print edition of the Joplin Globe.


UPDATE ONE:  After press deadline the GoFundMe account for the O’Connor family closed out with this message:

Donations are now closed. Grand total of $842,387 raised for ‪#‎MemoriesPizza‬. You stood in the gap with them. Thank you!

Please see link below to follow the next steps!


UPDATE TWO:  I first saw this story early Saturday morning but only now getting time to post:

Central Florida baker getting death threats after “evangelist” Josh Feurstein mimics Memories Pizza haters tactic

The link headline is mine but illustrates the basic facts of the case.  Some guy name Josh Feurstein who according to his web page is:

Joshua Feuerstein (January 7, 1981) is an American evangelist, internet and social media personality.  In recent months, Feuerstein has gained Facebook fame and half a million followers as a result of his motivational videos that deal with interpersonal, social and religious issues……..

…..As a former pastor, Feuerstein is known as a featured speaker at national and international events, conferences and stadium concert tours with groups such as Planetshakers and Press Play……..

…..Feuerstein’s charisma and his bold, passionate and distinctive communication style resonates with the Millennial Generation. Realizing the prevailing disillusionment with society, politics and organized religion, Feuerstein endeavors to speak to and reach people in a way they can relate and understand.

Sounds fine as far as it goes, but that news story out of Orlando shows the behavior of someone that to me was just as bad as the Alyssa Marino “in search of” non-story story that unleashed the hate against the O’Connor family and their Memories Pizza restaurant.

What’s worse, is after he pulled his stunt of demanding that the bake shop make him a blatantly anti-gay cake and posting the exchange online, from what I can tell he did absolutely nothing to quell the hate that he unleashed against the bakery owner.

According to the comments on his Facebook page and twitter timeline, Feurstein has more than a few committed followers.  Which to me makes what he did that much worse.

Calling up a bakery half way across the country for an  anti-gay ambush is not the action of any pastor that I would ever follow.

Just as I am on record denouncing the hate the left unleashed upon Memories Pizza, so too can you count me in on denouncing Feuerstein’s childish stunt and the hate and bigotry that he unleashed – and as of this writing has done little to denounce or attempt to stop.

Tolerance truly is a two way street, and any so called “Christian” participating in Feuerstein’s attack against Cut the Cake is no more a Christian than Alyssa Marino and her editor are object journalists.

Cut the Cake now has its own GoFundMe page which has so far raised $8,600 in donations.  The shop’s website is

If you believe in religious tolerance for Memories Pizza, you also believe that what Feuerstein did was both morally and literally, just WRONG.

And you can let him know how much you disapprove of giving religious tolerance a bad name via:

His facebook page

His @TheEvangelist Twitter Feed

His website contact page

I personally believe that marriage is a religious ceremony between one man and one woman.  The state needs to get out of the marriage business and stop using the tax code for social engineering.  Everyone, gay, straight, single or married gets treated the same, has the same benefit status.

And yes I also believe that if America is to survive then our society has got to allow true accommodation and real tolerance for ALL who for deeply held beliefs personal to them, refuse to participate in the political agenda of others.

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