The Christian owners of an Indiana pizzeria who were forced to close their doors amid ongoing threats from gay marriage supporters are praising God for the monetary donations that have poured in from the Christian community.
Last week, Kevin O'Connor and his daughter, Christie O'Connor, the owners of Memories Pizzeria, were asked by a reporter how they would respond to the state's new and controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Describing their pizzeria as a "Christian establishment," the O'Connors said, "We would serve gay individuals at the restaurant, but due to religious beliefs, would decline to cater a same-sex wedding."
Within hours, the O'Connor's response went viral, and received a wide variety of angry reactions, include vows to harm and kill them. In one particularly disturbing threat, a Concord High School coach named Jess Dooley tweeted: "Who's going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?"
As the threats grew increasingly hostile, the O'Conners were forced to shut the doors of the pizzeria and considered moving out of state.
"We're in hiding...I just got an apartment, and this was my income to keep that apartment going. I am suspended on another job that I have until this is cleared up," Christie told Fox News of the financial ramifications her family had experienced following their decision to speak up for their faith. "So I have absolutely no income coming in, at all."
However, the Christian community quickly rallied around the O'Conners, and within three days, a GoFundMe account created by the Blaze reporter Dana Loesch and her producers had raised over $840,000 to help the family--nearly $600,000 over the page's goal.
"Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family's plate as the strangers sought to destroy them," reads a statement on Loesch's website. "But other strangers came to the rescue and the total just keeps going up. Thank you for helping us do some good for this family who were scared and in hiding just 24 hours before this writing. All money, save whatever percentage GoFundMe takes, will be transferred directly to whichever bank account the O'Connors wish to use. Show producers are in direct contact with the family to ensure that they never feel like they are being left out of what is going on.Thank you to everyone for your generosity."
Christie explained that although she's not quite ready to open the pizzeria again, she believes God is responsible for the support that's poured in.
"God has blessed us for standing up for what we believe, and not denying him," Crystal told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.
Although encouraged by the support shown from the Christian community, Loesch expressed disappointment that in 2015 "we would be dealing with such persecution like this, just because someone said that they want to stand up for a tenent of their faith. It's awful to see."
"We know how a lot of this backlash is, and we know how zealous some people are in terms of depriving someone of their livelihood or ruining their lives simply because they cannot tolerate their Christian faith, so we set up a GoFundMe account where people can go and they can make a donation, because nobody should have to suffer, or suffer alone, for their faith for standing up for Christian principles," Loesch told Christie during a recent interview. "We wanted to make you sure are aware of that as well, Christiel. God bless you for being fearless, and for standing up for your faith. And as Christ said, 'If they persecute you, remember they came for me first,' so you did nothing wrong here. You did nothing wrong."