A possibly unwelcome dollop of Internet fame was ladled over Memories Pizza of Walkerton, IN this week when their proprietor was interviewed on camera and allowed as how she would never cater a gay wedding from her pizza shop.
Leaving aside the line of inquiry that goes, “pizza shops catering weddings is a thing?”, this has become a poster-child issue for both sides of the debate about Indiana’s (now amended) RFRA that was widely viewed as a license for private businesses to discriminate against anyone not already in a protected (civil rights) group. And in Indiana, of course, that meant this bill painted a bull-eye squarely on LGBTQ people. The really egregious thing about this bill, however, is that unlike RFRA bills before it, this one allowed the unfalsifiable declarations of religious principle to enter into private-party transactions, not just those involving a government body.
So back to pizza. Here we have the O’Connors, the owners, saying on-camera that they “don’t have a problem with gay people,” but catering gay weddings goes against their beliefs. “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal told local news station ABC 57. “We are a Christian establishment.”
Well, one thing is for sure. The O’Connors may have deep belief in salvation through Jesus but I would bet a paycheck that their pizza oven, their walk-in fridge, even their soda fountain have exactly zero opinion on it. But never mind that. If this is about religious freedom then I am at a loss to describe the ways in which Walkerton IN harbors a single threat to the O’Connors’ ability to pray as they like. To worship as they like. To restrict themselves from anything their religion says is taboo.
No, what civil society demands, and what the O’Connors would doubtless take up arms to enforce if it were Muslims, Jews, or Hindus trying these shenanigans, is that nobody has a right to enforce their worship, their restrictions, their prayer on any other human. Suppose a Jew said to the O’Connors, No more bacon for you! And by the way, no more meat toppings on the pizza with the cheese; that’s not kosher! The O’Connors would be absolutely correct to reply with a colloquialism that seems anatomically difficult at best. But sitting as they do, at the apex of the privilege pyramid, where actual persecution is inconceivable, enabled by Fox News and similar, the O’Connors have become a cause célèbre on the right for standing up to the imaginary persecution of Christians in the US. This persecution, from the “War on Christmas” to Marriage Equality to non-discrimination legislation, consists entirely of restrictions on Christians’ ability to impose their beliefs on others.
Sure enough, a variety of nasty comments and worse on Memories Pizza’s Yelp! and other social media pages has led to the (possibly temporary) shutdown of the business, with the O’Connors claiming that they are worried for their safety. Assuming that is not just a hoax, whoever gave them cause to worry about that should absolutely be prosecuted; lowering oneself to that level is not the right way to go about it. But then someone set up a rather fishy looking GoFundMe page with an astonishing array of Anonymous donations that reportedly ran up to $840 thousand before being shut down. Truly disgusting but not at all surprising. Hate is well-funded in the good ol’ U S of A.
Yet, there’s good news at the end of all this. Let the hateful Right waste money on crappy Indiana pizza; here’s a pizza-based fundraiser we can get behind – and I have already made a donation. Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund has a new campaign, Pizza4Equality (GoFundMe page) now looking to raise at least as much as the hate-filled O’Connors have but for a loving cause: to support programs that serve LGBTQ youth who have been ejected by their families and are now homeless.
Everyone who reads this stop now and go give them even $3. Please show the haters that answering with more hate is not how we roll (the dough (sorry)).