Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ave Maria, Zion and Jonestown

It seems the founder of Domino's Pizza is starting his own town: "Abortions, pornography, and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria created by Tom Monaghan, a former marine who was raised by nuns and is the founder of the Domino's Pizza." (City Pages Blotter).

Which makes one wonder how familiar he is with the history of Zion, Illinois.

Zion is a city located in Lake County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 22,866. The city was founded in July of 1901 by Dr. John Alexander Dowie. He also started the Zion Tabernacle of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, which was the only church in town. It was built in the early 1900s and burned down in 1937.

It should be noted that Zion was founded by religious nutcases (the aforementioned Christian Catholic Apostolic Church) who took the Biblical "four-corners" of the earth statement to heart and preached that the earth was flat (see Flat Earth Society).

Perhaps the most famous American flat earther was the late Rev. Wilbur Glenn Voliva, General Overseer of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of Zion, Illinois. Rev. Voliva was elected mayor of Zion in 1914 and proceeded to turn that little city into his own private theocracy. Following his inauguration he insisted that biblical cosmology be taught in all public schools in Zion to the exclusion of any other concept, particularly modern astronomy. Being a very energetic man, Rev. Voliva established in Zion one of this country's first Christian radio broadcasting stations where he went on the air daily to thunder against what he described as "the Devil's Triplets" -- evolution, higher criticism (of the Bible), and, of course, modern
astronomy. Voliva was not ousted from political office until 1935. Under new, more progressive leadership the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of Zion lost control, and its strangle hold on government was, after almost 20 years, finally broken. But take heart good people, the geocentrists may be an endangered species, but they are not yet extinct.

For a while, Zion was so zealous in its religiousity that local police would board trains to search for smokers, drinkers, etc., in order to ticket them just for passing through town.

Until 1935 the city was a communal society with a theocratic government...
Dowie wasn't making pizza, but presumably only because he couldn't exploit enough churchgoers to accomplish everything there was to produce.
in 1895, the church established the theocratic community of Zion, Illinois on the shore of Lake Michigan forty miles (seventy kilometers) north of Chicago. In 1905, Dowie was deposed as leader of the cult by his lieutenant, Wilbur Glenn Voliva. Voliva ruled his some 6000 followers with an iron hand, ruthlessly exploiting their labor in the church-run corporation, Zion Industries.

So, good luck to everyone in Ave Maria - living with a religious zealot in a small, insular community seems not to have such a good track record, but maybe you'll be an exception to the rule. And if he calls you to the town square to share in the communal pizza, just pretend you've never heard of Jonestown.


PTW said...

You remember that Golden Walnut is in Zion, right?

Scooter said...

I did remember the cookie factory is in Zion - I mentioned Zion's history to your father once. This just seemed like a good opportunity to tie a few bits of disparate knowledge together.