The Catholic Right: Tom Monaghan: The Pizza-man Who Delivers the Dough. (Tenth in a Series)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:55:25 PM EST
In this segment, the first of a three-part overview, you will be introduced to Tom Monaghan, a wealthy man determined to change secular society to one more heavily influenced by his brand of ultra-orthodox Catholicism. In subsequent pieces, the specifics of his activities and organizations will be reviewed.
If you do not know who Tom Monaghan is, you should. He is perhaps one of the most influential members of the Catholic Right. An advocate of laissiez-faire economics as well as an ultra-orthodox brand of faith he has advanced those twin agendas by both his actions and his financial muscle.

In order to spread his religious convictions he has personally funded Operation Rescue as well as Fr, Frank Pavone's Priests for Life. Legatus, the ultra-conservative millionaires-only club he founded has reportedly done the same for Opus Dei.

On the business side he is vehemently anti-union,(i) blaming organized Labor for causing the federal budget deficit--a contradictory position to take considering that many middle-class Catholics make up a significant portion of Labor's rank and file. Monaghan has also pumped money into the campaign coffers of the likes of culturally conservative Senators such as Sam Brownback (R-Ks.), Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

As the New York Times recently put it:

Since netting about $1 billion from the 1998 sale of Domino's to Bain Capital, Mr. Monaghan, 69, has become one of the leading philanthropists in the country and the biggest benefactor of conservative Catholic institutions.

In the past eight years, his Ave Maria Foundation, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has donated $140 million to promote conservative Catholic education, media and other organizations, including Detroit-area parochial grade schools, a law school and small regional colleges in Michigan and Nicaragua, along with radio stations and a fellowship group for Catholic business leaders.(ii)

As of 2004, he has given away approximately $450 million to the causes he believes in. And as this sub-series will demonstrate that Mr. Monaghan prefers a society that views ultra-orthodox Catholicism as its moral cornerstone. To that end, secular law would then be subject to a Catholic understanding of Natural Law principles.

The pizza king cum power broker came from humble beginnings. His father died when he was six. Shortly thereafter his mother placed him and his brother in a Catholic orphanage after having trouble raising them. After getting kicked out of a seminary, he then did a stint in the Marines; enrolled in the University of Michigan, but never graduated. He did though acquire a desire "to save souls," a desire that was given a booster shot after reading C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity."

Monaghan started on the path that would lead to the Domino's Pizza empire in 1960 by purchasing a single pizzeria called DomiNick's. By the time of his sale to Bain, Domino's had 6,250 locations throughout the world.

In the next three postings of this series on the Catholic Right, Monaghan's influence will be closely examined. First, will be The Thomas More Law Center, its mission, its faculty, and most of all its legal philosophy. This will include a review of one of the center's lawsuits and how it reveals its members' very theocratic disposition towards government. As part of this review, his experiment at  creating an ultra-orthodox Catholic community from the ground-up will be examined; including the thorny constitutional issues it raises.

The following installment will take a hard look at how Monaghan and others of the Catholic Right are building their own structures of higher education, including the Ave Maria University projects. It is a system designed to educate and prepare new generation of ultra-orthodox Catholics for positions of leadership. As we will see, it is a cause for concern even within the mainstream Catholic colleges and universities.

In the final installment the Monaghan money trail will be examined more closely. This will include a good look at the various Religious Right organizations to which Mr. Monaghan and his affiliated foundations provide vital funding. As part of this overview,
Legatus will also be examined in upcoming posts. Set up by Monaghan, this association is open only to those with a net worth of $4 million or more. Having a bent that is decidedly socially conservative, it feeds money into a whole host of ultra-conservative causes, including lay organizations such as Opus Dei. An agenda that is designed to take the Catholic Church back toward a pre-Vatican II outlook as well as catering to interests of wealthier individuals.

Tom Monaghan has a grand plan to transform our pluralistic society into one that holds everyone to one subjective form of "the truth"--even if you don't agree with that version. Because of both his wealth and his access to political power, he is a man worth watching.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank Cocozzelli :  Part One  Part Two  Part Three   Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine

(i)  Deborah Birnby, "Domino's CEO Uses Company Funds to Finance Cult"The Tech, Volume 111, Number 18, April 9, 1991, Page 5; Link:

(ii)  Hansen, Susan, "Our Lady of Discord," New York Times, July 30, 2006. Link: 95B0C738FDDAE0894DE404482

Mr. Monoghan is a model of hypocritical thinking. He lives in a country that gives him the freedom to worship God as he sees fit. Yet, this man selfishly wishes to transform our society where his norms and his values prevail over all others--including those of many patriotic, mainstream Catholic Americans who do understand and value America's cherished heritage of pluralism.

I cannot help but thinking that men such as Tom Monaghan who claim to be "conservatives," cannot see the inconsistency of wanting government to stay out of the affairs of business yet at the same time call upon it to control our personal values.

And if Mr. Monaghan does understand that inconsistency, that makes  him all the more dangerous to representative democracy.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 08:44:48 AM EST

Thanks again for another excellent installment in your series. Two things-interestingly enough, Tom Monaghan's wife Marge is Lutheran, and he hasn't convinced her to convert. The second was to ask you if you read Damon Linker's new book The Theocons. This book has a lot to say about Father Richard Neuhaus, George Weigel, and their attempts to influence the direction in the American political system.

by khughes1963 on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 03:27:50 PM EST
Thank you.

I plan on reading The Theocons, but I first have to read Kristen Breitweister's book, Wake Up Call, as well as a book that I am profiled in, Stem Cell Wars.

As for Monaghan, wouldn't it be ironic if, while seeking to impose an ultra-orthodox Catholicism morality upon America, he couldn't get his wife to embrace it voluntarily?

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 05:52:18 PM EST

I thought Kristen Breitweiser's book was good at detailing the stonewalling that she and the other 9/11 wives encountered. Kristen's letter to Ann Coulter is well worth reading, and Kristen did an excellent job of replying to Ann Coulter without descending to the meanness and shrillness that is Ann Coulter's stock in trade. I was dismayed to learn that the "Pro-Life" group in Dayton had Coulter as their guest for the Viva la Vita dinner. My parish advertised it in the bulletin. Some protestors showed up to remind Ann of her own words.

by khughes1963 on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 06:21:11 PM EST
She is as vile as they come. I thought that Fred framed her version of Christianty perfectly.

Coulter gives us an important clue as to how some American Christians think: for them it is more of an identity, almost an ethnicity--not a faith.

What they don't get is that faith should (with a few notable exceptions such as Shintoism in World War Two and before in Japan)transcend nationality. And when it doesn't you wind up with an imperialist nation such as Japan as it was until its liberation in 1945.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Sep 25, 2006 at 07:27:09 AM EST

Tom's motto would have to be "The Pizza-state, C'est Moi!"

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 06:36:49 PM EST
...because his pizza sure doesn't taste Italian! Actually it has no ethnic taste at all; more like cardboard with marinara jar sauce and cheese on it.  

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 02:55:49 PM EST

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