Nearly $850,000 has poured into a crowd-funding campaign account for Memories Pizza, a tiny little joint on Walkerton, Ind., that was suddenly thrust to the forefront of a religious freedom debate.
"Donations are now closed. Grand total of $842,387 raised for #MemoriesPizza. You stood in the gap with them. Thank you!" the campaign says at http://www.gofundme.com/MemoriesPizza.
The effort to help the shop's owners, the O'Connors, began when the family-run restaurant said they would 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. But she also said they had no problem serving gays and lesbians in their small diner-like restaurant.
The comments came after the state passed and the governor signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The new law, nearly identical to 19 other states' law and even the federal statute passed and signed by Bill Clinton in 1993, came under intense fire by liberals, who went all out to paint the family as homophobic bigots.
Opponents covered their Facebook page with gay pornographic pictures, and a few death threats came in, anonymously, of course. But the couple shut down the restaurant last when a serious threat was posted on Twitter.
"Who's going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza?" Jessica Dooley of Goshen tweeted, according to the Walkerton Police Department.
The family thought all was lost. "We're basically in hiding," Mrs. O'Connor said.
But Lawrence Billy Jones III, a television opinion contributors on the Dana Loesch TV show. set up a page on the crowd-funding site "to help take one thing off this family's plate as the strangers sought to destroy them."
"We set up a GoFundMe page with the modest goal of $25,000. The intent was to help the family stave off the burdensome cost of having the media parked out front, activists tearing them down, and no customers coming in," he wrote.
Even that effort was sabotaged. Alix Bryan, who described himself as "1/3 of a kick-ass web and social media team @CBS6” in Richmond, Va., announced on Twitter that she had reported the campaign to GoFundMe, claiming fraud -- "just in case." But the campaign was not shut down, as she had hoped, and she eventually apologized, saying she regretted that her posts "reflected negatively on my employer."
Most fascinating throughout the whole story, which played out during Easter week and culminated on Good Friday, is that the law was intended to ensure the rights of those with faith, not to infringe on anyone else's rights. But the hardcore left, a most intolerant class, spit venom for a week, which the mainstream media repeated without even the slightest investigation.
In the end, the O'Connors -- and religious freedom -- won.