INDIANAPOLIS, April 4 (UPI) -- Over $800,000 has been donated to an Indiana pizzeria that came under fire following comments by its owners about refusing to cater same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs.
The owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., Kevin O'Connor, 61, closed his shop in the wake of several threatening phone calls and social media posts labeling his business as discriminatory following the comments, which were made earlier this week.
"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, who co-owns Memories Pizza, told ABC 57.
"That's a lifestyle that you choose," Kevin O'Connor added. "I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. You can't beat me over the head with something they choose to be."
A flurry of protest quickly erupted on Yelp and Facebook against the pizzeria, and after a drop in business the O'Connors told reporters they feared the pizzeria was ruined.
"I hope your business goes under for your inability to see that Christianity is a religion based on the belief that you should 'love thy neighbor,'" one Yelp reviewer wrote.
Since then a GoFundMe page set up by staffer's from Dana Loesch's conservative talk show, The Blaze, has raised $842,592 from 29,166 donors in just two days time. The stated purpose of the page is to "relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors' stand for faith."
Lawrence Jones, an opinion contributor on Loesch's show, wrote in a statement on the page that "the family may never even reopen the doors to their restaurant as the death threats and vicious online reviews continue to pour in from the arbiters of 'tolerance.' ... So 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."
The O'Connors made the initial comments in relation to Indiana's equally controversial Senate Bill 101 -- known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- which critics say allows businesses to cite religious beliefs as a valid defense for discriminatory practices.
The law, which passed late last month 40-10, resulted in massive nationwide protest, leading to corporate boycotts and denouncements from business leaders such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and the president of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), which is headquartered in Indianapolis.
The Indiana state legislature revised the bill earlier this week to include language that Gov. Mike Pence said would "not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual."