It's the old story — one day you're topping thick crusts, the next you're getting dick pizza pictures on your fake website. At least that's what happened to one Indiana pizza shop at the center of the political shit storm over the Hoosier state's controversial new religious freedom law. Now, the owners are saying they might have to fire down their ovens for good.
Memories Pizza, located in the tiny town of Walkerton, Indiana, suffered huge backlash this week when its staunchly Christian owners decided to throw their support behind Indiana's recently enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), saying they'd refuse to cater to gay or non-Christian weddings.
And while some residents pointed out they'd never been served pizza at a gay — or any other — wedding, others expressed outrage at the owners' threats to use the law to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, by posting a series of comical and cutting reviews on the restaurant's Yelp page and setting up a fake website featuring a picture of a penis-shaped pie.
Now, as other companies around the state and country have begun backing away from business in Indiana as a result of the RFRA, Memories Pizza owners, Crystal and Kevin O'Connor, who were forced to temporarily close shop over a series of threats, have said they may close for good and are even thinking of skipping town with their family.
"I don't know if we will reopen or if we can," Crystal O'Connor told The Blaze's conservative radio host Dana Loesch. "We're very hurt and confused and we stood up for what we believed and the news took it totally out of proportion."
Pressured by opposition to the law from major corporations like Apple, state legislators moved swiftly to rework the religious objections law, unveiling an amendment Thursday that would bar it from being used as a legal defense to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other identifications. Indiana Governor Mike Pence has already stated his hopes the amendment will iron out what he described as "mischaracterizations" of the RFRA.
While scrutiny of Indiana's new law has intensified in the lead-up to the NCAA college basketball tournament semifinals to be held in the state's capital of Indianapolis over the weekend, it is not the only state currently under fire for its legislation to establish rights for religious business, potentially at the expense of others.
Arkansas pushed its own religious freedom bill this week through the state legislature, which was promptly sent back by Governor Asa Hutchinson. State lawmakers were forced to reword the legislation to resemble the federal RFRA and resubmitted it to the Senate, where it passed late Wednesday. The state's House will take up the bill Thursday.
The knock-on effect of the uproar has also filtered through to South Carolina where state Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) introduced a bill Wednesday that would prohibit businesses from denying service to customers based on their sexual orientation. House Representatives are also planning to propose similar legislation when they return to the floor this month.
In South Carolina, same-sex couples can legally marry in the state, so the law is simply "good for business," Hutto said, adding, "It's just the right thing to do."
The city of Madison, Wisconsin this week also went one step further to unanimously pass an anti-discrimination ordinance that would protect Atheists and others who don't believe in a God or Gods. The amendment to the city's equal opportunity ordinance will ensure people of no religion are also protected when they seek jobs or apply to rent housing or public accommodations.
"This is important because I believe it is only fair that if we protect religion, in all its varieties, we should also protect non-religion from discrimination. It's only fair," councilmember and ordinance sponsor Anita Weier said.
Meanwhile, critics of Memories Pizza have continued to sharp shoot its policies online, but the Coopers have received a mild form of absolution at least from the people who erected the fake website. The former pizza penis pics and provocative statements have now been replaced with two simple messages.
"It's really dumb to not own a domain name for your business. Especially after you spew stupid shit on TV," the website creators wrote, along with, "Don't discriminate. It's not nice."
Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields