Thursday, June 16, 2005
Domino's founder's dream: A Catholic utopia.
I know, I know: Catholicism has dominated the commentary here for the past week, but you work with what you've got — and this week, Bostonians have Catholicism. The freshly redesigned Boston Phoenix features my Div School classmate Adam Reilly's report on the super-Catholic dreams of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Ave Maria College, Ave Maria Law School, and the fledgling Ave Maria University in Florida are just the beginning, Reilly writes: The next phase is a 5,000-acre, 30,000-resident city Monaghan is founding around the future campus of the university in Florida.
Ave Maria will be all-Catholic and how, Monaghan told the Boston Catholic Men's Conference this spring:
Ave Maria wonít be just a university, he continues. It will also be a new town, built from scratch, in which the wickedness of the world will be kept at bay. "Weíve already had about 3500 people inquire on our Web site about buying a home there ó you know, theyíre all Catholic," Monaghan says excitedly. "Weíre going to control all the commercial real estate, so thereís not going to be any pornography sold in this town. Weíre controlling the cable system. The pharmacies are not going to be able to sell condoms or dispense contraceptives." A private chapel will be located within walking distance of each home. At the stunning church in the center of town, Mass will be said hourly, seven days a week, from 6 a.m. on. "So," Monaghan concludes, with just a hint of understatement, "itíll be a unique town." As he exits the stage, the applause is thunderous.
The private company that owns the land and will be developing the campus and the town — and supplying utilities — disagrees with Monaghan about how comprehensively and aggressively Catholic the town will be. Blake Gable tells Reilly, "[Monaghan] feels, obviously, that itís going to be extremely Catholic. We feel itís going to be, certainly at the beginning, primarily Catholic. But we are not going to discriminate or market to Catholics ó thatís simply not what the company believes in. Tom has his vision, and we have ours."
But Monaghan is the one marketing the town and finding buyers. Barry Lynn of American United for Separation of Church and State objects:
"I think they really canít do this, as much as they might want to," Lynn says. "You canít create your own town and then decide what all of the rules will be for living in that town. You canít have a religious test for purchasing a house. . . . This kind of approach to creating your own little community is still governed by fundamental civil-rights and civil-liberties principles that are inherent in the constitution of the state of Florida and the federal Constitution. This is not a guy whoís buying his own island out in the Pacific. If he did that, he might be able to get away with all of this."
But Reilly says the law is a bit murkier. It's not clear that a "town" owned and maintained by a private corporation that asks for almost nothing from the county is obligated to guarantee the civil liberties that a liberal constitutional government expects of civil municipalities. (Beth Young explained not too long ago how contractors who build new subdivisions include clauses in the sale agreements that place all sorts of limits on owners' behavior; these clauses are regulated by the Homeowners Association, using rules developed by the contractors, rather than by any civic authority.) Can you lose your right to live in an all-Catholic community if you deviate from some jot or tittle of ultraorthodox opinion or practice? It looks like we'll find out in not too many years.
("City of God: Tom Monaghan's Coming Catholic Utopia," Adam Reilly, Boston Phoenix 6.23.05)
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 16 June 2005 at 9:41 PM