ELKHART, Ind. (Christian Examiner) – A lesbian high school coach has been suspended by her district for tweeting a threat to burn down a small town Indiana pizzeria that grabbed national headlines after the owners said they had no problem serving gays but would not cater a gay wedding.
Jess Dooley, who coaches golf, softball and basketball for Concord Community High School in Elkhart, Indiana, took to Twitter to write "Who's going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me? Agree with #FreedomofReligion bill? 'That's a lifestyle they CHOOSE' Ignorant."
Her comments were directed at Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, after the owners were quoted in a local television report about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act which has raised a furor among liberals and homosexuals.
Crystal O'Connor, whose family owns the business, told a South Bend ABC affiliate she appreciated the law because it protected her religious liberties as a Christian business owner.
"If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no," O'Connor told WBND, which was going into small businesses in small towns seeking comments.
Kevin O'Connor backed up his daughter by adding that he did not feel he should surrender his beliefs because of someone else's.
"That's a lifestyle that you choose," Kevin O'Connor told WBND. "I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head because they choose that lifestyle?"
The owners said they would not refuse service to homosexuals or non-Christians, but that they thought gay weddings were wrong.
Those broadcast beliefs brought out hatred among those who disagree with the O'Connors. The family said vicious threats by phone and social media, which included Dooley's, caused them to close down their store at least temporarily, according to TMZ.
Dooley's threat was reported by others on Twitter and she was subsequently suspended without pay by her school.
The Elkhart Truth, the local newspaper in Dooley's hometown, reported the community's superintendent took the action "pending further investigation." Meanwhile the police department in Walkerton investigated Dooley's threat and passed along their findings to the county prosecutor for possible charges.
Despite the fierce negativity from critics, the family is receiving enormous support nationally in a crowdfunding campaign to help them financially get through the uproar.
A GoFundMe webpage was set up April 1 to raise a modest $25,000 for the family. But in 19 hours, nearly 6,000 donors had contributed more than $160,000.