A Christian ice cream shop owner is thankful for being forgiven by atheists whom he had temporarily banned from his store.
In his most recent public response this week, Gelato Mio owner Andy Drennen revealed on Wednesday that it's been "an emotional rollercoaster ride" for him and his family over the last few days but that he has received "positive, forgiving, and understanding responses."
Drennen had received backlash for a sign he posted last weekend, stating, "Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business."
Skepticon is an annual skeptics convention in Springfield, Mo. When religious skeptics descended to the city for this year's convention on Nov. 19-20, attendees initially received a 10 percent discount at Gelato Mio.
But Drennen offered the discount before realizing what Skepticon was about. He initially thought it involved skeptics of UFOs.
When he checked out the nearby convention, he was surprised to find a man "conducting a mock sermon, reading the bible and cursing it. Instead of saying 'Amen,' the phrase was 'god damn,'" he recalled in a reddit.com post.
As a Christian, he was offended, took it personally and "quickly decided in the heat of the moment" to let others know how he felt. Hence, the sign went up on his store window.
It was posted for only about 10 minutes, he said. He took it down after coming to his senses, he explained, and has offered a public apology.
The short-lived sign, however, was photographed and went viral on reddit.com, drawing criticisms as well as low ratings on Yelp from skeptics.
Drennen declined to comment further to The Christian Post, instead pointing CP back to his formal apology where he stated, "For the thousands of you whom I’ve offended, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. This is me as a human being sincerely apologizing for my actions."
He also offered 10 percent off to everyone as a token of his apology.
Hemant Mehta, also known as the "Friendly Atheist," exchanged emails with the Gelato Mio owner and has indicated that all has been forgiven.
"Via our email exchanges, he’s told me he’s very grateful for the forgiveness he’s seen from many atheists. I told him not to let the ones holding grudges get to him," Mehta stated on his blog.
Floyd Zamarripa, who helped organize Skepticon, commented on reddit.com that there were no hard feelings between skeptics and Drennen and he made sure the Gelato store owner knew of it.
Other atheists have expressed their forgiveness on yelp.com with five-star ratings.
"I was at Skepticon, and ate at Gelato Mio. I am disappointed at the owners overreaction, but far more disappointed in that of the atheist community. What happened to taking the high road, people? The owner was perfectly pleasant with me, and the gelato was delicious. Apology accepted, sir," Ethan H. from Nixa, Mo., wrote.
Fellow Christian John J. Farina also commented to the ice cream shop owner that "anger and bitterness has no place in the Christian heart" and that he ultimately did the right thing.
"Your display of regret and your apology demonstrates how a true Christian should behave," Farina wrote on Gelato Mio's Facebook page on Friday.
Following the uproar, Drennen said he plans to be more generous this holiday season with his local charities.
"I am thankful to be forgiven," he said.
Christian Post Reporter Jeff Schapiro contributed to this report.