Column: Osama bin Domino’s Pizza

By Eric Naing

Imagine a place where religious extremists control all aspects of life: entertainment, health care, education, even morality. This may sound like some remote Iraqi village under the influence of a Shiite cleric, but if you substitute “remote Iraqi village” with “tomato field in southwestern Florida,” and “Shiite cleric” with “guy who founded Domino’s Pizza,” you get the town of Ave Maria.

Tom Monaghan, multimillionaire, fanatically devout Catholic and founder of Domino’s Pizza is hoping to create a town governed by Roman Catholic principles. But these days “Roman Catholic principles” such as “loving thy neighbor” or “turning the other cheek” are out of style. Instead, Monaghan pursues wholesome beliefs like rejecting a woman’s right to choose and obsessing about pornography.

Mr. Monaghan plans to impose his will by owning all commercial property in Ave Maria. For example, the town’s pharmacies will not be allowed to sell contraceptives such as birth control or condoms, and its television station will not broadcast any so-called “X-rated” programming. Presumably school children, in lieu of proper sex education, will be taught to avoid both premarital sex and the pizza-stealing Noid.

Aside from the obvious constitutional issues Ave Maria faces, a larger issue of what the Christian right has become emerges. It is time to question if America is going down the right path.

Christian fundamentalists love to discuss the so called “clash of civilizations.” The uproar over the Danish cartoons has fueled their belief that “the Middle East” and “the West” are two fundamentally different societies that will never see eye to eye. While this belief has some merit, it is also true that the two are surprisingly similar, though not necessarily in a good way.

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    Monaghan once warned that Islamic fundamentalism “no longer faces a religiously dynamic West.” His “new kind of town where faith and freedom will merge to create a community of like-minded citizens” is just the Domino’s Pizza way of keeping up with radical Islam (think the Noid with a beard and turban).

    The similarities between radical Islam and radical Christianity extend beyond the borders of Ave Maria. A crazy old man with millions of devout followers wishing death to foreign leaders could be Osama bin Laden or Pat Robertson. Violent clashes between religious denominations leading to terrorist bombings and sectarian violence could refer to the current situation Iraq or the Protestant-Catholic violence in Northern Ireland.

    Some may distance themselves from the Christian right, but it can’t be denied that Robertson and his ilk have a powerful influence over this country. Just look at Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito who felt it necessary to write a thank you letter to Christian leader James Dobson for helping him get confirmed or defanged Senator John McCain who now cowers before the Christian right after being stung during his first run for the presidency.

    Tom Monaghan wants to compete with Islamic fundamentalism and sadly, Americans seem to agree. As radical Islamists have twisted religion and sacrificed the well being of their own people, so too have radical Christians sacrificed the well-being of America for their own selfish purposes.

    More is at stake than just the livelihood of a few evangelical preachers and pundits. The bodies of all women in South Dakota are being declared state property while children are being force-fed junk science and bogus creationist theories. Our health, our children and our culture are being damaged by the actions of the Christian right.

    That which we call religious extremism by any other name would be just as crazy. Just like with anything else, religion taken to an extreme is dangerous. So the next time someone fumes about Islam, turn on the 700 Club and show them how similar we all truly are.

    And on a personal note, I wish that Tom Monaghan founded Pizza Hut because then I could have written Jessica Simpson and stuffed crust pizza jokes instead of just Noid material.

    Eric Naing is a senior in LAS. He wants you to attend a benefit concert for the homeless this Thursday, 9 p.m. at the YMCA. His column appears on Tuesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].