From Successful Startup to "Catholic Jonestown"?

The Ave Maria School of Law is something of a success story. Founded only five years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ave Maria's mission is to provide "an outstanding legal education in fidelity to the Catholic Faith." But it seems school founder and Chairman Tom Monaghan wants to mess with success. According to this story he wants to move the school from Michigan to a new campus in rural Florida — "Ave Maria Town" — where the school will be insulated from the outside world.

"We'll own all commercial real estate," Mr. Monaghan declared, describing his vision. "That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in Ave Maria Town."

Ann Althouse finds this vision "creepy," and I'm inclined to agree. Even accepting Monaghan's values, it's hard to understand. After all, can one really be an effective lawyer if one refuses to engage the outside world? I doubt it. To paraphrase one alumnus, what is the point of creating principled Catholic lawyers if they are not going to "engage the world" but "retreat from it"?

UPDATE: I agree with what Althouse said in the update to her post, and would like to incorporate her sentiments by reference. Also, as I note below in the comments, the "Catholic Jonestown" phrase came from the OpinionJournal story linked above. It was not my formulation. That is why it is in quotes.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Ave Maria Responds to WSJ:
  2. From Successful Startup to "Catholic Jonestown"?