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Ave Maria, Fla.: Christian living community

By Jim Killebrew

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[April 02, 2014]  On July 19, 2007, during the "Today" morning show broadcast, there was a story about a newly established town in Florida named Ave Maria. The town was established with a Catholic University at its center and a focus on being built upon Christian principles. The "Today Show" interviewer had guests who had been responsible for the development of the university and the town built up around it. During its building, the external hype was that it would be an "All Christian Community." That apparently had perked up a lot of ears around the country from the "diversity" and "separation of church and state" crowd.

The barrage of questions from the interviewer suggested the focus of thought from those crowds: "Do you have to be Catholic to live in Ave Maria, Fla.?" "What about the diversity of the community?" "How would you deal with the separation of church and state in a community with only one set of values?" "Do you have to have those 'Christian' values to live there?" "Would it discourage diversity?" Finally, "What would attract people without Christian values to come live in that community?"

The two gentlemen being interviewed did not seem too wild-eyed or radical, nor on the fringe of insanity, but then as some might believe, having those "Christian" values may pose a danger to push one a bit too close to the fanatical. In fact, the two gentlemen seemed most rational in their answers. They talked about higher education, living in harmony, people getting along, practicing their beliefs and not hurting anyone else in the process. Perhaps to some people, even having that desire might classify the residents of Ave Maria as "right-wing." At one point both gentlemen stepped away from the charge that Ave Maria was exclusively a "Catholic" community by saying that one of them was an Episcopalian, while the wife of another was a Lutheran. The "Today Show" host conceded that perhaps it should be referred to as only a "Christian" community.

Perhaps to ward off those who will find a fight in the establishment of a so-called Christian community and to include services that would "attract people without Christian values," the community could build in some alternative services.

Perhaps to be fair, and completely diverse, those alternatives could be some businesses and services that are opposed to Christian-living values. Some examples might be:

Perhaps the Ave Maria city planners could ensure that at least a percentage of the movie theaters show pornographic movies.

The city planners could establish at least one or two of the middle schools, and at least one high school, that would be barred from teaching any reference to creationism.

Each of the school's sex education classes could refrain from teaching abstinence from sex as a form of birth control before marriage, but pass out condoms instead. In fact, for diversity's sake, marriage could be mentioned at those schools only in the context of an "alternative lifestyle."

The city planners should have at least one abortion clinic that freely provides its services to teenage girls without invading their privacy by informing their parents.

Of course all prayer in those schools could be banned, and certainly no references to the Bible could be made, even within a historical context.

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Of course if you have not stopped reading by this time, and have gotten to this point in this article, you must realize that it is written "tongue-in-cheek" per se. It seems as Americans with our own unique heritage that we would encourage more Christian-living values based on the lifestyles of Christianity.

Surely the time-honored foundations drawn from the Bible-based values of not killing, not stealing, treating one's neighbor as one would like to be treated, not lying or cheating or lusting after others' valuables would be a good thing. One wonders if when most people are measuring the Christian values against the values of diversity, and diversity wins, just how much longer those people will be able to travel down that road before they run headlong into a solid wall.

An oft-quoted Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, is said to have described the way of all past civilizations:

"Politics and Progress-

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependency;

From dependency back again into bondage."

The way of our civilization at the current time seems to be somewhere between dependency with apathy and complacency ... perhaps moving toward bondage. It would be great to think that before bondage becomes a reality, we could consider a move directly back to spiritual faith through Christian living.

A more recent stand from the leaders of Ave Maria, Fla., that charged Ave Maria as being only a "Catholic" town was answered by saying:

"Absolutely not; Ave Maria is open to every religion, ethnicity and age. In fact, we believe that the intermingling of people of different backgrounds, interests and life stages will be important to making Ave Maria a true community."


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