New Florida town looks to ban abortions, pornography and contraceptives
By Brian Skoloff
10:46 a.m. March 1, 2006
NAPLES, Fla.- If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in Florida will be governed according to strict Roman Catholic principles, with no place to get an abortion, pornography or birth control.
The pizza magnate is bankrolling the project with at least $250 million and calls it "God's will."
Civil libertarians say the plan is unconstitutional and are threatening to sue.
The town of Ave Maria is being constructed around Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in about 40 years. Both are set to open next year about 25 miles east of Naples in southwestern Florida.
The town and the university, developed in partnership with the Barron Collier Co., an agricultural and real estate business, will be set on 5,000 acres with a European-inspired town center, a massive church and what planners call the largest crucifix in the nation, at nearly 65 feet tall. Monaghan envisions 11,000 homes and 20,000 residents.
During a speech last year at a Catholic men's gathering in Boston, Monaghan said that in his community, stores will not sell pornographic magazines, pharmacies will not carry condoms or birth control pills, and cable television will have no X-rated channels.
Homebuyers in Ave Maria will own their property outright. But Monaghan and Barron Collier will control all commercial real estate in the town, meaning they could insert provisions in leases to restrict the sale of certain items.
"I believe all of history is just one big battle between good and evil. I don't want to be on the sidelines," Monaghan, who sold Domino's Pizza in 1998 to devote himself to doing good works, said in a recent Newsweek interview.
Robert Falls, a spokesman for the project, said Tuesday that attorneys are still reviewing the legal issues and that Monaghan had no comment in the meantime.
"If they attempt to do what he apparently wants to do, the people of Naples and Collier County, Florida, are in for a whole series of legal and constitutional problems and a lot of litigation indefinitely into the future," warned Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said it will be up to the courts to decide the legalities of the plan. "The community has the right to provide a wholesome environment," he said. "If someone disagrees, they have the right to go to court and present facts before a judge."
Gov. Jeb Bush, at the site's groundbreaking earlier this month, lauded the development as a new kind of town where faith and freedom will merge to create a community of like-minded citizens. Bush, a convert to Catholicism, did not speak specifically to the proposed restrictions.
"While the governor does not personally believe in abortion or pornography, the town, and any restrictions they may place on businesses choosing to locate there, must comply with the laws and constitution of the state and federal governments," Russell Schweiss, a spokesman for the governor, said Tuesday.
Frances Kissling, president of the liberal Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, likened Monaghan's concept to Islamic fundamentalism.
"This is un-American," Kissling said. "I don't think in a democratic society you can have a legally organized township that will seek to have any kind of public service whatsoever and try to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens."
Two reactions I have really.
1- My first impulse upon reading this was to laugh out loud, because honestly what more can one do when presented with such levels of absurdity. An entirely catholic town? Wanting to ban porn, contraceptives and abortions. Thus my next impulse was "good god those people will be BREEDING?". Aside from the obvious levels of idiocy present in such an idea there's the blatant fact that this is a theocracy, they can't claim to be anything but that. A catholic city, do we remember what happened last time the catholic church was in charge of something? I believe it was called the Spanish Inquisition. Not a nice time for those with liberated minds (or IQs over 90 for that matter). In all honesty, it's quite disturbing to have the idea for something of this nature in a country that is said to be founded on freedom (though a quick look through the country's history would prove that they are quite wrong there). The irony, really, is that they're in Iraq fighting their religious fanatics when hey right down in Florida some religious fanatics (Catholics at that, again with the shuddering) are forming their own town, completely bringing us back to 1940s "morality" and that's simply disturbing. And do I even need to point out how highly unconstitutional the whole idea is? It is absolutely despicable. The point being some guy with millions of dollars that wants to do a "godly thing", rather than doing what Jesus would do and donating that money to a charity, he blows it all on organized religion. First wasting it on a catholic school (yes I am aware of the oxymoron of "catholic education", ha) and now on an entire town! Those people obviously will not stop until they own the whole world. Guess us free thinkers will have to start over somewhere, Mars seems nice. The religious don't like science as it is so they can stay down here and kill each other off.
Thus leading me to my second point:
2- Let them have their town, I say! I am actually in full support of giving the christians and catholics a state or two (preferrably down in the south, as that seems to be where the worst of them reside anyway) as long as they promise not to interfere with the education and government in any of the other states. Oh sure the idea of a theocratic town is incredibly frightening to those of us that appreciate freedom and intellect, but as the religious types seem pretty opposed to those things, let them have their theocratic cities, towns or even a couple states. Just leave the rest of the country to those of us that deserve and appreciate actual freedom.
Giving the christians their own state/s would actually be a wonderful solution to everyone's problems if you consider it. I mean they wouldn't have to worry about their kids learning about science, or having sex education. They can outlaw abortion, homosexuality and intellect of any kind. They can have their theocracy and they can flaunt it as much as they want. They can stop annoying the rest of us with their constant nipping at the heels of progress of any kind. If someone dislikes the way society is moving forward, there's always "Jesusland". And the christians that are socially mature enough to have figured out how to live side-by-side with awful heathens (like non-christians, scientists, and gays) can continue to do so without being called less-christian-than-thou by others in their congregation. Essentially, stick all the christians in a state (far far away) and what do we have? A world without christians. That's a world I'd appreciate living in.
There's always the issue of possible civil war amongst the christians and the free-thinkers, but were that situation to arise, since they'd all be living in a couple states, we could easily bomb them, and they could be with their god and we could have a fanatic-less country, thus everyone wins again.
(That war part was meant tongue in cheek, really- sort of)
Though my point remains valid, self segregation rarely works to do anything except alienate the people in the specific group, but in the case of the catholics in this town, I say self segregation is their best bet, and I support them all going away. (And for once in my life, I can say that I am glad to live in DC and not Florida)
So you heard /*my*/ reaction, now I'm curious about yours.