IndianaBy John Ruberry

Twenty years ago if you were unhappy with a business, let’s say a check out clerk was rude to you or you were served a rotten meal, you had some effective ways of getting back. Of course these methods still exist. You can never patronize that business again and tell your friends not to do so as well.

Last week a South Bend, Indiana television reporter ventured outside of her city and traveled to tiny Walkerton, a place she probably never heard of before, where she interviewed one of the owners of Memories Pizza, a family business, who told the reporter that because of their Christian beliefs they would not cater a gay wedding–if they were was asked. The reporter found the “gotcha” story in the sticks that she was seeking in regards to Indiana’s new Religious Restoration Freedom Act.

Then the militant left went on the attack. The owners went into hiding after receiving a death threat.

And then the online attacks poured in Actually they’re still coming. Memories’ Yelp page has been inundated with “reviews” from people who lives almost everywhere but northern Indiana. On the other hand, a high school coach from nearby Goshen took to Twitter to suggest that Memories be burned down. She has since been suspended.  As I mentioned in my post here last week, Yelp’s CEO condemned Indiana’s RFRA, although just last month his firm opened an office in Illinois–which has a similar law.

Years ago I was at a concert where Elvis Costello answered a heckler who was shouting that he should play “Clubland,” by replying with something blues singer Little Willie John once said. “I remember the good old days,” Costello quipped, “they’re gone now. ”

True, very true.

But there is some good news. Supporters of Memories Pizza and religious freedom started a GoFundMe.com drive for the owners of the restaurant–and it has received $800,000.

The internet is a two-edged sword.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

IndianaBy John Ruberry

When Indiana governor Mike Pence signed into law a Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday, the Hoosier State became the 20th state to enact such a law.

More from the Weekly Standard:

The first RFRA was a 1993 federal law that was signed into law by Democratic president Bill Clinton. It unanimously passed the House of Representatives, where it was sponsored by then-congressman Chuck Schumer, and sailed through the Senate on a 97-3 vote.

The law reestablished a balancing test for courts to apply in religious liberty cases (a standard had been used by the Supreme Court for decades). RFRA allows a person’s free exercise of religion to be “substantially burdened” by a law only if the law furthers a “compelling governmental interest” in the “least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

So the law doesn’t say that a person making a religious claim will always win. In the years since RFRA has been on the books, sometimes the courts have ruled in favor of religious exemptions, but many other times they haven’t.

This law protects a bakery owned by devout Christians from, let’s say, not baking a wedding cake for a gay union because it violates their religious belief that marriage should be reserved only for one man and one woman, but this law does not permit to exclude gays as customers in all cases. What that business receives is protection from a discrimination lawsuit.

White River, Indianapolis
White River, Indianapolis

As for that gay couple, they can always find another bakery–that won’t be very hard to do–and the newlyweds can write a nasty Yelp review about the first one while on their honeymoon. Interestingly Yelp is one of those businesses considering a boycott of Indiana because of the its new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  But just three weeks ago with great fanfare, Yelp opened an office in Chicago. Illinois, yep, you guessed right, has an RFRA law on the books.

In a statement released on Friday, Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppleman said:

[It] is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large.

I guess Stoppelman needs to write a snarky review about himself.

As for Gov. Pence, he’s not helping his case. This morning on ABC’s This Week, Pence was asked six times if the new law will allow businesses to completely refuse services to gays. He couldn’t answer.

No matter: This Hoosier hysteria is misplaced.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.