Pizza joint engages in social media spat over Christian music & Bible verses

by Gregory Tomlin |

(WRDW TV/Video Still)A receipt from Giovanni's Pizza in Prestonburg, Ky., where owner B.J. Blackburn has explained to customers why he plays Christian music in his shop.

PRESTONBURG, Ky. (Christian Examiner) – The owner of a pizza joint in rural Kentucky coal country believes in serving up the gospel message along with his pies, and he'll continue to do so in spite of several complaints from atheists.

Last week, B.J. Blackburn took to social media to explain why the restaurant plays Christian music over its speakers and places Bible verses on its receipts. Not everyone is appreciative, he wrote.

"We, here at Giovanni's of Prestonsburg are unapologetically a Christ-based business that runs and operates with Christian values and principles. We wholeheartedly believe that we have been blessed the way that we have because of the goodness of God. We understand that this is not the view of every customer and/or business owner and we are not trying to push this view on anybody," Blackburn wrote.

He also wrote that though his Christian views were not those of the Giovanni's franchise, the business "will continue to honor God in our business and in our lives" as an independently-owned restaurant.

Since the posting on social media Sept. 8, it has been shared more than 4,000 times, and only 3,300 people live in the town.

We, here at Giovanni's of Prestonsburg are unapologetically a Christ-based business that runs and operates with Christian values and principles. We wholeheartedly believe that we have been blessed the way that we have because of the goodness of God. We understand that this is not the view of every customer and/or business owner and we are not trying to push this view on anybody.
- Giovanni's Pizza

Most of the responses have been positive, but not all.

One man commented that the pizza parlor's owners believed in "fairy tales." Another woman, who lives in neighboring Pikeville, wrote that the owner's comment about the Christian faith was a "stupid thing to post."

"I don't like your pizza, but if I did I would be calling corporate to complain. It I want religion, I will go to church. At a pizza place I want pizza only," she wrote.

Giovanni's apologized for the fact that she didn't like the pizza and offered to treat her to another. She then wrote that she would return for the free pizza. She also received a fair amount of criticism from other patrons.

Another self-confessed atheist wrote, however, that he had eaten at the restaurant many times and never been bothered by the music or the messages on the receipt.

"As an atheist, I respect your beliefs and as a pizza fan, I enjoy your food," he wrote. "Keep your faith and keep making delicious pizza. I look forward to eating there again soon."

Blackburn took ownership of Giovanni's in Prestonburg in March. Asked on the Facebook page if the restaurant still sold beer, he said the shop "cut that out" as soon as he purchased it.