Indiana Pizzeria Crowdfunding Campaign Rakes In Over $500,000 Following Owner’s Anti-LGBT Comments

Campaign creator says it is a Christian reaction to strangers who “sought to destroy” the restaurant after owner declared it would not cater a gay wedding

Last Updated: April 3, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Publicly declaring faith-based prejudice against gay marriage is turning into a far more profitable business model than pizza probably ever was for Memories Pizza owner Crystal O’Connor.

Since O’Connor told a local ABC affiliate her “proud Christian establishment” in Walkerton, Indiana, “would have to say no” to a gay couple asking for the restaurant to cater their wedding, a GoFundMe campaign seeking to “relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith” has raised over $524,000.

Scratch that, $537,000 following a quick refresh of the page that has been shared over 54,000 times, and attracted over 18,000 supporters willing to chip in for the cause.

The movement was started by TheBlaze TV contributor Lawrence Jones, who launched the campaign initially seeking $25,000 after appearing on Dana Loesch’s talk show on Wednesday.

“Before the televised interview, producers Rachel, Allison and George discussed the situation with Dana, myself and head writer Ben Howe. We all agreed: this family needs help to get through this assault,” Jones wrote in an update. “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. Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family’s plate as the strangers sought to destroy them.”

Since TheWrap first wrote about the overwhelmingly successful fundraising effort on Thursday, the contributions have almost doubled.

“The total just keeps going up,” Jones wrote. “Thank you for helping us do some good for this family who were scared and in hiding just 24 hours before this writing.”

Since taking her hypothetical stand against gay couples looking to impress their wedding guests with a pizza buffet, O’Connor has appeared on Fox News to set the record straight: She doesn’t hate gays.

“They are welcome in the store, anyone is welcome in the store, but it’s against our belief to condone, to cater to their wedding — we’re condoning that if we do that and that is against our religion,” she said Thursday.

“We show no hatred toward them,” she continued, but couldn’t put a “stamp of approval” on same-sex weddings.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign “horrified” by support for “a small business that gained fame for no other reason than their public admission of a willingness to discriminate against other human beings” has raised a total of $0 for an LGBT organization of its choice.

“I am horrified at the mischaracterization of the true intent of the so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws at issue in Indiana, Arkansas and many other states,” the rival, and significantly less successful campaign, reads. “People are looking for legal means to deprive other people of societal rights.  These proposed laws are tools of discrimination, plain and simple.”

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved an overhaul of the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which sparked O’Connor’s good fortune, in the first place.

Pence had asked lawmakers to clarify language in the law earlier this week as businesses and sports associations canceled conventions and governments banned travel to the state, and the state enacted protections based on sexual orientation.