Memories Pizza in the small Indiana town of Walkerton is a family-run restaurant that found itself at the center of the debate over the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The owners said they’d refuse to cater a same-sex couple’s wedding, “If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor told CNN affiliate WBND-TV in South Bend.
In March, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed SB 101, a “religious freedom” bill into law. He was quoted as saying, “Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith.”
The bill reads, “As used in this chapter, ‘exercise of religion’ includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief,” and “The measure could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples and has set off a firestorm of controversy,” via Freedom Outpost
The media unloaded on the small pizzeria in the community of 2,100 people that few people outside northern Indiana knew existed before this week.
Bad reviews flooded the restaurant’s Facebook page, most having little to do with the quality of the food. Many too vulgar to share.”Do you really want to financially support a company that treats some of your fellow citizens like second class citizens? BOYCOTT MEMORIES PIZZA!!” said Rob Katz of Indianapolis.
But one outburst in particular shut down the restaurant Wednesday and was expected to do the same Thursday. “Who’s going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza?” Jessica Dooley of Goshen tweeted, according to the Walkerton Police Department.
Dooley’s account has been deleted since the tweet was posted. Detectives who investigated have recommended charges of harassment, intimidation and threats, according to Charles Kulp, assistant police chief.
A northern Indiana school district says it has fired Dooley who tweeted about burning down the pizza shop after its owners said they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding because of their religious beliefs.
Concord Community Schools Superintendent Wayne Stubbs confirmed to The Goshen News that Jessica Dooley was terminated on Monday.
Dooley had been suspended since April 1 after she suggested burning down Memories Pizza in Walkerton over the owners’ support for a new religious objects law that critics called anti-gay.
Supporters rallied to a GoFundMe page in support of Memories Pizza. It had raised more than 0,000 by Thursday morning. The purpose of the campaign is “to relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith,” according to Lawrence Billy Jones II, the man who started it.