Central Florida bakery bounces back after anti-gay harassment

By : Jeremy Williams
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Longwood – A Central Florida bakery is getting back to business after a YouTube evangelist recorded a phone conversation of him asking for a cake with an anti-gay remark on it and posted it online.

“I never expected the phone call to change my life forever,” said Sharon Haller, co-owner of Cut The Cake bakery in Longwood.

The call came April 2 from Joshua Feuerstein, an ex-evangelist from Arizona, who asked Haller if she could make a sheet cake with the phrase “We do not support gay marriage” written on it.

“It was a very unexpected call,” said Haller. “I originally thought it was a prank.”

Minutes after she hung up the phone started ringing and threatening calls started pouring in.

“Hundreds of calls came in,” Haller said. “At first it was cake stuff, can you write this or that [anti-gay message], but then they became hate calls and we became concerned for our safety.”

Haller saw the video on Feuerstein’s YouTube channel half an hour after the harassment calls started.

“I was shocked,” Haller said. “We didn’t realize what was going on and we didn’t know how to respond to it. When you have something so violent come at you so quickly you just don’t know what to do.”

When the calls began with threats of burning down the bakery and their homes, Haller contacted the police.

Feuerstein removed the video later that day but Haller’s daughter, Cyndol Knarr, reposted it to her YouTube channel with the message, “Please help put a stop to people like Joshua Feuerstein.”

Haller has felt the support of the community since the video went viral, and business is the same as it was before Feuerstein posted his video.

“We have people stopping in, buying cupcakes and being supportive,” said Haller. “There’s just so much hate out there and I don’t want to support that.”

Feuerstein stated in the video that he loves gay people and has nothing against them but said he called to make a point on why we need religious freedom bills. He has not responded to Watermark’s attempts to reach him for comment.

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, also known as RFRAs, have come under scrutiny over the last few weeks after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a RFRA into law that alleges to protect businesses from conducting business that clashes with their religious beliefs. Opponents say RFRAs give business owners license to discriminate against LGBTs.

According to Florida’s Wiretapping Law, it’s illegal to record a phone call in the state unless all parties are aware of the recording and consent to it. That could open Cut the Cake up to legal recourse. Watermark asked Haller whether they plan to take any legal action and she said she couldn’t discuss it and that they’re unsure what their next move would be.

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