As of this writing an otherwise nondescript pizzeria in a typical Midwestern small town has $842,347 in a GoFundMe account.
I’ve never been to Walkerton, Indiana, but the small (population 2,248) community straddling U.S. 6 in the northern part of the state probably isn’t too different from the towns I spent my formative years nearby in neighboring Ohio. Before this week, no one had ever heard of the restaurant or the town but now it’s Ground Zero for a culture war sweeping the nation and pitting a very tiny but exceptionally vocal minority against a much larger group that’s been turning the other cheek for far too long.
The events leading up to the sudden fame and fortune of Memories Pizza are well-documented: owner Crystal O’Connor admitted her religious beliefs would prevent her from catering a same-sex wedding. Never mind the business hasn’t been asked to do so (and probably would not be), that admission coupled with the passage of Indiana’s original version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enough to become a “gotcha” moment for the ambitious news department of a station whose personnel are otherwise toiling in the #96 media market in the country – success for them would be advancement to a station in Indianapolis or even Chicago.
Yet the question has sprung to mind several times as I’ve heard the events playing out: why doesn’t the Christian community fight back and demand the RFRA protect our interests?
Some would sneer that Christians are the majority and therefore undeserving of protection. As it has turned out from previous cases, a state having the RFRA on the books was still ineffective in stopping the loss of their businesses when their owners refused service to gay weddings, citing their religious beliefs. Because of this track record, I again ask: what’s the big deal then? In almost every case, those who seek service have several other options and it seems to me that business owners should have the right to say, “no, thank you.” That’s what a series of Muslim bakers did in this video.
So what would be the problem if church-going people who believe the Bible is the Word of God and should be followed stood up to the gay lobby and those who bend over backward to accommodate it unquestioningly in the name of “tolerance?” In my estimation, tolerance should work both ways.
Just look at the economic power of the churchgoing. On the Sundays we’re in church, I’m generally sitting amid 75 to 100 people. Other churches in town are somewhat larger; most are probably smaller. But let’s say Salisbury’s church attendance is slightly better than the national average, which ranges between 36 to 39 percent nationally according to recent polls. 40 percent is an easy number to work with, and that means out of a population of about 30,000 in Salisbury churchgoers have the economic might of 12,000 people.
Arkansas has been working on passing its own version of the RFRA, but Walmart (which is headquartered in the state) has been encouraging a veto. What if 12,000 people in Salisbury decided to pass on Walmart and do their shopping elsewhere? I’m sure Target, KMart, Sears, and Kohl’s would welcome the extra business.
Erick Erickson of RedState has popularized a saying over the last couple years on the subject, “you will be made to care.” Christians aren’t generally going around looking to stir up trouble, but we’ve spent the last fifty years or so retreating from the culture and watching deviancy be defined downward. At some point there has to be a stand for values; oftentimes it occurs on a generational level as the offspring rebel against the excesses of the parents.
At $15 per pizza, the money grossed by the GoFundMe account set up for Memories Pizza would be equivalent to them selling over 56,000 pizzas. Being a small town pie maker, it’s doubtful they make over 75 pizzas a night so this is perhaps two years’ worth of business for them. Of course, I can almost guarantee that people will be coming after their newfound windfall in some way, shape, manner, or form – probably demanding they donate it to a same-sex marriage advocacy group under threat of lawsuits for imagined pain, suffering, or fraud.
Personally, though, I hope that after they tithe an appropriate amount to their church, they use the money for their business – perhaps opening a second store or investing in new equipment to bolster their menu. Maybe they can start a bakery.