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The Tom Monaghanword Of God Connection

The Tom Monaghanword Of God Connection image The Tom Monaghanword Of God Connection image The Tom Monaghanword Of God Connection image
Parent Issue
Month
September
Year
1989
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

Domino's Pizza insiste that the current boycott of their company is having no impact on their sales of pizza. "We 've looked at campus sales nationally," said company spokesperson Ron Hingst in a recent interview, "and they are np from last year." However, Hingst admitted that campus markets across the country were registering some boycott activity, and singled out Berkeley, Denver, and Manhattan as "hot spots." Hingst said both the pizza stores and the company are receiving letters and Domino's Pizza coupons with antiDomino's messages written on them. The boycott was launched at the Arai Arbor Township-based Domino's Pizza World Headquarters July 18 by a coalition of seven groups, including members from NOW (the National Organization for Women), the Latin American Solidarity Committee, and the Ann Arbor Coalition to Defend Abortion Rights, among others. "I have worked in grassroots organizing for a number of years," said Phillis Engelbert, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Boycott Domino' s Pizza, "but I have never seen anything like the response that this boycott is provoking." "As more people find out about the boycott, and the reasons for it," explained Engelbert, "the sales of Domino 's Pizza will drop in a way that not even the company will be able to deny." Engelbert points to a barrage of media attention - local and national - directed at the boycott as another measure of its success. Engelbert and other members of the Coalition have been interviewed about a dozen times by newspapers and radio stations, including Ne wsday and Newsweek. The McNeilLehrer News Hour is also interested in the story and will be sending a crew to Arm Arbor in mid-September. Meanwhile, ie Coalition to Boy cott Domino ' s Pizza meets weekly , planning strategies for mobilizing students here in Ann Arbor and on campuses across the country. "Domino's has long relied on student markets for their pizza profïts," said Engelbert. "It's time they were held accountable for the irresponsible way those profïts are spent" The Coalition is demanding, among other things, that Thomas S. Monaghan, sole owner of the Domino's Pizza empire, an enterprise which boasted $2.3 billion in sales in 1988, stop using pizza profïts to rund the anti-choice movemenL In particular, the group objects to $1 10,000 in donations in 1988 made by Monaghan and Domino's Pizza to Michigan Right to Life's "Committee to End Tax-Funded Abortions" (see AGENDA, August 1989). The seed for the current coalition boycott was planted in the spring of 1988 when Monaghan personally cancelled a NOW fundraiser scheduled for May 20 at Domino's Farms, the complex which serves as corporate headquarters for Domino's Pizza. At the request of Washtenaw-Ann Arbor NOW, on January 13, 1989, the National NOW Board passed a resolution, urging their 200,000 members to boycott Domino's Pizza. "NOW chapters around the country were also asked to organize events and letter-writing campaigns around the boycott," said Jan BenDor, a spokesperson for 500-member Washtenaw-Ann Arbor chapter. Monagahan, a self-proclaimed devout Catholic who opposes abortion, cancelled the NOW event when he learned some of the proceeds from the hayride and pizza party were to go to the People's Campaign for Choice, a group working to protect the reproductive rights of all women. With the help of the ACLU, NOW is suing Domino's Pizza, claiming they were victims of dis(see BOYCOTT, page 4) BOYCOTT (from page one) crimination based on religión, in violaüon of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Critics of Monaghan also claim that Domino's Pizza discriminates in the hiring and promotion of women. They cite a lack of women in the upper echelon of Domino's corporate structure. Of Domino's Pizza's top ten executives and seven-member Board of Directors, only one executive is a woman. As further evidence of ultra-conservative leanings, and anotherreason to boycott Domino's Pizza, according to the Coalition, is Monaghan' s support of the Ann Arbor -based Word of God charismatic community. Understanding the Word of God community and its international subsidiary , S word of the Spirit (SOS), is important, say boycott organizers, because the Wordof GodSOS philosophy and worldview are what Monaghan seeks to promote through profits from Domino's Pizza sales. The Word of God Connection The Word of God community, begun in 1 967, is "arguably one of the oldest, largest, and most widely known charismatic Christian communities in the United States," according to Craig T. Smith (Ann Arbor Observer, May and June, 1987). Word of God's membership was around 1,600 adults and 1,200 children in 1987, and tithings (10 percent of members' incomes) totalled nearly $1 million. The charismatic renewal movement's roots are in Pentacostalism and the practice of "baptism in the Holy Spirit." Begun in 1901 in Kansas, Pentacostalism is a movement specifically devoted to seeking spiritual gifts, also called "charisms," (henee the term "charismatic renewal"). "Tongues" are one of the spiritual gifts. Others include healing, miracleworking, prophecy, and the discemment of good and evil spirits. Word of God community members, according to Smith, view these gifts as "evidence of God's presence." The Word of God community is 65% Catholic, and its founders - Steve Clark and Ralph Martin - are Catholic. Word of God members belong to one of fourfellowships, orcongregations: Catholic, Presbyterian, Ludieran, and non-denominational. Word of God members meet separately in their individual fellowships every week and the whole community meets as a group twice a month. Former Word of God members describe the community as an almost de facto, "hybrid" church, according to writer Russ Bellant (National Catholic Reporter, Nov. 18, 1988), because it performs such parochial functions as marriages and baptisms. 'The Word of God group conducís other quasi-sacraments," explains Bellant in the NCR article, "such as a 'Lord's Day Observance,' conducted every Saturday as a kind of eucharist; a 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit,' in which the initiation to charismatic practices begins; confessions in group or private settings without clergy; exorcisms; and annointing of the sick by the elders." According to Smith, the Word of God uses the New Testament as the blueprint for their strict hierarchical structure: "women submit to men, community members to their leaders, and the top leaders - Martin and Clark - to each other and to God." Family life is also structured accordingly: "The husband is the breadwinner, the wife is the bread baker, and the children obey their parents." Word of God's top leadership - 25 elders or coördinators - are all men. The highest ranking job for a woman is "handmaid," whose job is, as one handmaid told Smith, "to counsel other women and obey their coördinators." The Word of God community perceives itself as a chosenpeople - obey ing God's law - in the midst of a corrupt and misguided world. Former member David Field told Smith that a Word of God training course portrayed the community as chosen by God to keep true Christianity from being stamped out, "a seedbed from which to recapture the land for the Lord." Bellant argües that Word of God members "speak in different tongues and pursue higher ambitions than charismatics generally." In the last 21 years the group has "deviated from its origins,"Bellant writes. "It has created a far-flung network whose aim is to save the world. To do this, its members feel, it must first do battle with the world's enemies and eventually prevail over them." To do this on an international scale, in 1983 Word of God formed the S word of the Spirit (SOS), a federation of 50 Christian communities that look to : Ann Arbor for leadership and inspiration. SOS chapters exist locally in Detroit, Jackson, and Grand Rapids, and internationally in India, the Philippines, Nicaragua and Honduras, Lebanon, S. África, and Belfast, N. Ireland. Total membership, according to Bellant, is about 20,000. SOS headquarters are in Ann Arbor, located on Airport Boulevard on the south side of the city, identif ied by the sign: "Servant Ministries." According to Smith, 75 Word of God members are employed full time by Servant Ministries to spread the Word of God message to five continents. Bellant's National Catholic Reporter article, which received a runner -up award for investigative joumalism from the Catholic Press Association in 1 988, outlines Monaghan 's "close working relationship with the Word of God and the Sword of the Spirit" Bellant identifies Central America as a place "where a number of long-term MonaghanSOS projects are in the works." The most significant of these projects is Monaghan's sponsorship of Father Enrique Sylvestre's mission based in El Mochito, Honduras. Bellant identifies Father Sylvestre as an SOS-trained coördinator and head of one of two SOS chapters in Honduras. Monaghan began sponsoring the priest's missionary work in 1985 and so far has invested "nearly $ 1 million for equipment, services, and land for mission projects" (Detroit Free Press, June 4, 1989). The story of how Sylvestre and Monaghan met varies widely from source to source. Fot example, in a March 15, 1989 Ann Arbor News article, Michael Kersmarki claims the meeting took place "in 1984 while the Catholic priest was study ing English at the University of Michigan." In his 1986 book, "Pizza Tiger," Monaghan provides a slightly different account, linking Sylvestre directly with the Word of GodSOS: "The most fascinating charitable project I've become involved with is supporting a Catholic mission in Honduras. This carne about as a result of meeting Father Enrique Sylvestre in 1984. He is a Passionist priest who had come to Ann Arbor to study English with the Word of God Servant Ministry, an ecumenical evangelical group." Monaghan told the Free Press (June 4, 1989) that there is no "hiddenpolitical agenda" behind his work with Sylvestre. "My only objective is to help Father Enrique... I'll support anything he wants to do." Sylvestre operates in a mountainous area about the size of two Michigan counties. In addition to preaching and marriage counseling, Sylvestre trains lay "Delegates of the Word," who help spread the gospel in the absence of a priest. He is credited by some for tuming El Mochito from a town of brothels and bars into "a spiritual renewal center." (Detroit Free Press, June 4, 1 989.) Father Sylvestre himself credit s the powers of the charismatic movement. In 1980, Sylvestre attended a charismatic renewal retreat where, he said, "he had been touched by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Delroit Free Press, June 4, 1989). "Through this movement, charismatic renewal," Sylvestre said, "a lot of people have changed their lives and started going to church and living the word of God." (italics added) More links between Monaghan and the Word of GodSOS can be found in Domino's Pizza's Central American operations. Bellant identifies Francisco Zuniga as the Central America coördinator for Domino's Pizza and as a Word of God member trained in 1988 lo be a Sword of the Spirit coördinator. Zuniga is also the Central America liason for Legatus, an organization for wealthy Catholic businessmen established by Monaghan. The stated purpose of Legatus is "supporting moral ethics in business." Monaghan formed Legatus within hours of meeting with Pope John Paul II in Rome in the summer of 1987. Legatus is "the reason I was put on this earth," Monaghan told the National Catholic Reporter. Legatus is so important that the office next to Monaghan's at Domino's Farms is occupied by its executive director. Bob Thorton. Thorton, Bellant writes, is the former business manager for Servant Ministries, the outreach arms of Sword of the Spirit. "Monaghan's relationship to Word of God and Sword of the Spirit goes beyond the Honduran activities," according to Bellant. "Domino's employs many Word of God members, while other real estáte businesses owned by Monaghan have Word of God members as officers." The corporate chaplain for Domino ' s Pizza is the Rev. Patrick Egan, identified by Bellant as a Word of God member and head of the Word of God's Christ (see BOYCOTT, next page) BOYCOTT (from prevlous page) the King parish. Father Egan told The Ann Arbor News that he "maintains an administrative headquarters" near Domino's Farms and holds Mass in different locations in the area (Nov. 22, 1987). Father Egan was recently photographed CThe Ann Arbor News, July 7, 1989) saying Mass at Domino's Farms with special out-of-town guests, Father Enrique Sylvestre, and Bishop Kenneth J. Povish of the Lans ing diocese. Bishop Povish is an adviser to the Word of God's "New Covenant" magazine, cording to Bellant. He is also the Michigan chap lain to Monaghan's Legatus group. Monaghan has publicly denied membership in the Word of God and Sword of the Spirit before. Domino's spokesperson Ron Hingst again denied Monaghan's membership in those groups. Hingst said Monaghan's activities with Father Enrique in Honduras are of a charitable nature. "Pather Enrique is just a Catholic missionary helping poor people," explained Hingst. "One of the goals of the Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza," said Engelbert, "is to dispel the myth that Monaghan is engaged in charitable tivities when in reality he is only trying to promote his own right-wing agenda." "I don't want to give anything if it's without religión," Monaghan told The Arm Arbor News (Nov. 22, 1987). Recently, Monaghan told the Free Press that he is "more interested in people's souls then their wealth or health...I don't want to waste what little money I have just bringing up people's standards of living so they can get in a position where they can raise heil and sin all the more" (June 4, 1989). Nan Stoll contrïbuted In the research for Ihis article.

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