Thursday, April 2, 2015

Growing Religious Intolerance and Death Threats Force Small Town Pizzeria to Close

When I was a student at Ball State University, decades ago, every day around noon a street preacher would begin delivering a sermon on the sidewalk near the so-called scramble light, the busiest part of campus.  He would lecture about the evils of fornication, masturbation, and homosexuality.  He told my fellow students that we were condemned to hell for living a sinful life.

You know how we reacted?  Most people ignored the preacher, or if they stopped to listen, they did so in respectful silence.  A few students would crack a joke every now and then, but it was a brief moment of levity, certainly not an attempt to in any way prevent the sermon from proceeding. After all, we understood that that preacher had every right to speak his mind on that public university, and we had no right to interfere with that preacher's speech.  Although few on campus supported the minister's extreme beliefs and how he expressed them, we nonetheless were tolerant of his religious beliefs and his right to express those views publicly.

The other day I entered into a discussion with a colleague about tolerance.  I expressed my opinion that people are much more tolerant today and talked about how attitudes have changed in a positive direction when it comes to race, national origin, and certainly sexual orientation.  But later I was wrong. There is one area where people today are much less tolerant than they were when I was a college student:  people's attitudes toward religion.

That same street preacher appearing on a college campus today would face a barrage of students shouting and insults.  He may well be physically attacked or have the materials and equipment he brought with him stolen.  When it comes to religion, the attitude of people today is incredible intolerance toward people expressing their religious beliefs.  If you don't think so, view this video of street preacher Jesse Morrell who was assaulted and had his camera stolen during his sermon on a college campus..

Just days ago, an enterprising TV reporter decided to gauge local businesses' owners response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The owner of "Memories Pizza" in Walkerton expressed support for religious freedom and said that while she would gladly serve LGBT customers, she would refuse to cater a same sex wedding.  NBC reports:
"If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," Crystal O'Connor, who described the business as a "Christian establishment," told ABC57.        
The owner of a pizzeria in Indiana said Wednesday he was surprised by the backlash online following comments he and his family made in support of the state's much-discussed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 
The O'Connor family, who owns Memories Pizza in Walkerton, told a local TV station Tuesday they wouldn't cater a gay wedding.    
She added, "We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything."
It is a shame that Ms. O'Connor confused the RFRA with the issue of her refusing to cater a same sex wedding.  She can refuse to cater that same sex wedding because Indiana does not have a statewide anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation, which is completely unrelated to the RFRA.
After the story broke, opponents took to Yelp to trash the restaurant.  According to NBC: 
In reaction, hundreds took to the restaurant's Yelp page and flooded it with negative comments, one-star ratings and photographs of scantily clad men. Yelp has vowed to take down the negative comments unrelated to actual reviews of the restaurant. 
But the unbridled thuggery went even further.  According to the Elkhart Truth, a coach at Concord High School took to Twitter, asking that people join her in burning down the restaurant. 

Just this morning, the O'Connor family announced they would have to close the restaurant due to death threats they had been receiving.

Yes, intolerance, religious intolerance, is alive and well in Indiana.


Pete Boggs said...

These criminal threats are hate speech; exposing the vile sentiments of opponents to religious freedom.

Anonymous said...

This would be the pizza place in a town of 2000 that probably never has more than three weddings of any kind in a year, has probably never had a gay wedding, and certainly never one that used catered pizza and has raised $35K just by closing?

Anonymous said...

As this RFRA fallout concocted drama continues to be fed by left liberal Democrats- who are full of the hatred and intolerance they pretend to oppose- and is pushed by unelected Freedom Indiana and left liberal Democrat activist types, I am more and more reminded of Kristallnacht... and this is coming from an out and proud member of the metro Indy LGBT community!

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 1152, and that justifies the threats and the religious intolerance directed toward the pizzeria exactly how?

Indy Rob said...

If I owned a pizza place, I probably w3ould not turn down business. But I respect the right of the owners to turn down business for almost any reason including religious ones.

I also do not own a pizza place in a town of 2000 and if I did, I may not be willing to host a wedding reception if I thought it could cost me other business.

I am really ashamed of the bully-mob mentality being used in this case.

Anonymous said...

People are not picketing churches or harming them in anyway. People are tired of religious figures teaching hate in the name of God. As a Christian I do have beliefs on homosexuality that I keep to myself. It is not my place to judge, it's God's. I do not need to force my religion onto anyone because I know my place in the world. More and more people are hating the Christian religion because it's turning into a symbol of hate and not love as Jesus has taught us.

Anonymous said...

"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
John 7:24

We are to judge. The funny thing is those who say "do not judge" are judging showing that we are to judge.

Pete Boggs said...

Anon 4:43: Those opting to participate (or not), aren't judging another person, but judging for themselves; as they are free to do with their personal property or labor.

Demands forced on an unwilling participant are a matter of poor judgement.

Veracity said...

Don't feel too badly for them - over a half million dollars has been raised on their behalf through GoFund Me. They can now afford to buy a couple of pizza joints in a state that has its own RFRA albeit not one that was specifically propounded to be protection against having to provide services to homosexual weddings.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

According to the Drudgereport, the fund is more than $828,000 now.

Not a bad payoff for "having to close".

Perhaps there was method in their madness? They'll never have to bake a pizza again.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how much Christians/Republicans and Islamic terrorists have in common.

-Against Gay Rights
-Opposed to teaching evolution in schools
-Want a government based on the religion
-Oppose women's rights to abortion
-Don't believe in global warning
-Oppose equal rights

Maybe it's time to stop calling yourselves Americans. Everything you stand for is un-American.