WALKERTON, Ind. (Christian Examiner) -- A small town, family-owned pizzeria has become the latest target of an angry mob of modern-day fascists -- hell-bent on silencing anyone who opposes gay marriage.
Kevin O'Connor and his daughter Crystal own Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind. -- just a hop, skip and a jump southwest of South Bend.
Mr. O'Connor and his family have been forced into hiding and had to temporarily shut down their store after they told a local television reporter that they would not cater a gay wedding.
"If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," Crystal told ABC 57 on Tuesday.
Neither Crystal nor her father realized they were about to become the LGBT community's Public Enemy No. 1.
"I'm a born-again Christian," Kevin O'Connor told me in an exclusive telephone interview Thursday. "My faith is the base of my business."
And the O'Connor family's faith teaches them that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman.
"I would not participate in a gay marriage," Kevin O'Connor said. "To condone a gay wedding to me is just wrong. I could not put my stamp of approval on a gay wedding."
The television station labeled Memories Pizza as the "first business to publicly deny same-sex service," in the aftermath of the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Washington Post reported.
Welcome to the age of pitchforks and torches.
But the O'Connors said they have never denied a same-sex couple a pepperoni pie.
The hell storm this 61-year-old grandfather faced as a result of his Christian faith is simply beyond belief.
The family business came under fierce assault by LGBT activists and their cronies -- accusing them of being anti-gay bigots. Their Facebook pages were smeared with gay pornography. Their phones were overwhelmed by vulgar and profane threats.
A high school softball coach in Concord, Ind., was suspended after posting an arson threat on Twitter.
"Who's going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?" Coach Jess Dooley tweeted.
How's that for tolerance, folks?
The Elkhart Truth newspaper reports Dooley was suspended from her coaching responsibilities and the police department forwarded the case to the county prosecutor for possible charges.
The bullying and abuse became so severe the Walkerton Police Department issued a statement urging people to follow the law.
"We ask that all frustrations and rebuttals with Memories Pizza's recent media statements remain within the law," the statement read.
The events of the past few days have been incredibly troubling for the O'Connor family. During my interview with Kevin -- he became quite emotional.
"It's been pretty tough, yeah," he said. "It's been hard."
It was his lifelong dream to own a business. That dream came true when he opened the pizzeria in 2006, when he started the business from scratch.
And his Christian faith is evident in the restaurant.
"We get together and pray every day when the store opens," he said. "We have a box for customers to put prayer requests in. We don't push it. We don't try to preach."
He doesn't force his religion on anyone.
"We treat them like we want to be treated," he said.
Kevin told me he was especially thankful for the support he's received from fellow Christians around the nation -- including a group that launched a fundraising drive.
He also wants other Christian business owners to be encouraged.
"Trust the Lord," he said. "Pray. Even though we don't see where He's taking us, He's got control. And He will make it work for His good and our good."
Kevin said he hopes to reopen the pizzeria sooner rather than later – but an exact date is unclear.
Right now, he's trying to console his 21-year-old daughter – who has shouldered a mountain of hateful threats.
"Crystal needs some time," Kevin said. "This scared her pretty good."
I believe that was the mission of the LGBT activists and their Mainstream Media cronies. Welcome to the age of pitchforks and torches.
The O'Connor family has become the face of the religious liberty movement. It seems to me that Christian-owned businesses are being singled out by LGBT activists.
They don't want tolerance and diversity. They want compliance and forced acceptance -- and they want to silence and punish any person who opposes their beliefs.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is the stop-gap.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join hisFacebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is "God Less America."