Rising from the swamps of the everglades, combining a Disney aesthetic with a Vatican focus, sits the 1000 person strong town of Ave Maria, America’s latest experiment in fundamentalist living. Built by an American pizza billionaire, the town’s aim is to foster a purified Catholicism through a university, a nearby law school, and village life centered around a huge Oratory. Large families with 9.10 and 11 children, have flocked to this fledging Jerusalem, eager to live an existence not possible elsewhere in the USA.
In the last year, the town’s raison d’etre has been animated by a nearby family planning clinic’s decision to offer abortion services. Now school children, nuns, sorority girls, and mommies, flock to the clinic to pray and preach. The town itself has a Truman Show feel with many residents extolling the virtues of living in a space that seems like it came out of a 1950′s TV show.