On the site of an abandoned tomato plant in rural Collier County, Fla., Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan is attempting to create a Catholic paradise. Ave Maria, an unincorporated planned town, boasts streets named after saints and is the site of Ave Maria University, a conservative Catholic institution.
The small town of Ave Maria, Fla., is home to Ave Maria University, a strictly Catholic institution – and critics say, an undemocratic form of government dominated by one man’s interpretation of religious doctrine.
The community of about 2,500 souls is a project of eccentric millionaire and Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, who reportedly planned the town as an ultra- conservative Catholic enclave in an isolated stretch of Florida countryside.
Recently, Americans United weighed in on a case that challenged discriminatory hiring practices at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
We sided with a Wiccan clergyman, Patrick McCollum, who was a qualified candidate for a paid chaplain position but could not be considered because of his religious beliefs. At the prison, those positions are only available to those who are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or Native American.
Is there a theocracy flourishing in South Florida?
According to reports from The Naples News, there just may be. The newspaper is in the midst of a three-part series on the town of Ave Maria, which came to be after Tom Monaghan, an ultra-conservative Catholic from Michigan, bought 100,000 acres of land just west of Naples.
Many have flocked to Ave Maria, which is home to a Catholic university, a Catholic law school and a huge Catholic Church. But few probably knew quite what they were getting into.