Pizza restaurant targeted for supporting Indiana's 'religious freedom' law

O'Connor family targeted for their pizza joint's anti-LGBT policy

teenagers taking pizza slices at restaurant 78742347
Credit: Thinkstock

Update:

The owners of Memories Pizza have closed their store due to the backlash over their support of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Kevin O'Connor has stated the family couldn't tell which orders were real and which were fake; adding that the store has been flooded with phone calls since the original piece from ABC57 aired.

They will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

"Because I don’t believe in something that they want, they see fit to be angry about it. It's really confusing to me. I'm just a little guy in a little tiny town. That's where I've been all my life. It's just been ugly. I don't know what to call it," Kevin O'Connor told FOX News.

For their part, Yelp has worked to remove the negative reviews and venomous comments from the Memories Pizza account, but that hasn't stopped people from targeting the shop's Facebook page or making harassing and prank phone calls.

The owner of the domain, memoriespizza.com, has altered the website after their webhost started getting abuse reports. Instead of the design shown below, the URL now displays a SFW message reminding people to not discriminate.

"Don't discriminate. (It's not nice.) Also, in all seriousness, it's really dumb to not own a domain name for your business. Especially after you spew stupid shit on TV," the new website says.

The O'Connor family were the first business owners in Indiana to come forward in support of a bill that critics say is nothing short of legalized discrimination. Now, they're the first family in the state to be crushed under a wave of Internet harassment to the point they were forced to close their doors.

It's also worth mentioning that they didn't come out in support of the law on a whim. On Twitter, the reporter from ABC57 who was responsible for the story said she walked into their shop out of the blue and asked them how they felt about the law.

"I just walked into their shop and asked how they feel. They've never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding...I don't think anyone was really aware the attention this would get at the time of the interview. They just spoke their mind," she wrote.

Original Story:

They were the first restaurant owners in Indiana to come out in support of Indiana's controversial "religious freedom" bill, signed into law last week by Governor Mike Pence. However, the O'Connor family and their business, Memories Pizza, quickly came under attack online.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has given outsiders the impression that Indiana is moving backwards as far as civil rights are concerned; with many critics stating that it's nothing short of legalized discrimination.

The problem most people have with the new law is that it opens the door for business owners to deny services to the LGBT community for religious reasons, and that's just what the O'Connor family said they planned to do.

Crystal and Kevin O’Connor of Memories Pizza, in an interview with South Bend, Indiana's ABC 57, said that religion is the reason they would refuse a gay couple if they were to request services.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O'Connor told the ABC affiliate.

"We are a Christian establishment," she added, telling ABC 57 that her family prides itself on owning a business that reflected their beliefs.

"We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything," she said.

Her father, Kevin O'Connor said that the backlash against Indiana's inflammatory bill and its supporters isn't fair:

"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?"

Reaction to the family was swift, as people from all parts of the U.S. took to the Internet and vented their frustrations and outrage over the family's remarks. While some were supportive, the bulk of the comments have been pure venom.

"What kind of an IDIOT sabotages their business's future by declaring they won't serve a certain type of person/customer," asked one reviewer on Yelp.

"Maybe you thought this would get you free publicity....yeah it is free yet there is always a price to pay. I would suggest contacting Suze Orman to help figure out the financial mess you will soon be in," said another.

The Yelp rating for the company hit 1.5 stars shortly after the news segment aired, with some 1,600 reviewers using the website to express themselves.

Another person took a different approach. The O'Connor family never registered a domain for their business, so someone did it for them. However, memoriespizza.com uses a NSFW design (click image to enlarge) that the family probably wouldn't support.

pizza indiana

At the bottom of the page, the person responsible for the website left a simple message to the O'Connor family:

"No servers were hacked during the making of this website. If you own a business, buy a domain."

Last week, Indiana's primary domain was taken offline briefly out of protest over the new law.

Gov. Pence, reacting to the massive backlash over law itself, has backpedaled from his earlier remarks that nothing in the questionable law would be changed. On Tuesday, he said that legislative leaders in the state plan to clarify the language used by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

During a press conference in Indianapolis, Pence said that the changes would make clear that the law doesn't allow businesses to "deny services to anyone."

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