Of Motes, Beams, and Holy Wars

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In his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, James Madison famously denounced the proposal that Virginians — or, for that matter, Americans anywhere else — be compelled to pay so much as "three pence" to support the establishment of religion.

A lawsuit filed in late 2008 by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Iraq War veteran Kevin J. Murray accuses the federal government (particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors) of violating Madison’s "three pence" standard by indirectly financing "Sharia-Compliant" investments by way of the American International Group (AIG).

By the time it was nationalized in September 2008, AIG was practically worthless, as its former CEO Maurice Greenberg admitted. It was useful only as a way to facilitate a "backdoor bailout" of Goldman Sachs. Once AIG was nationalized — an action that was unconstitutional on its face, in addition to being a world-historic crime — some of the wealth plundered from taxpayers ended up being used to fund and promote "Sharia-compliant" financial services in Muslim markets.

"As a Christian, a federal taxpayer, and a former U.S. Marine veteran of the war against Islamic terrorism, Plaintiff objects to and is harmed by the appropriation of disbursement of public funds to AIG and being forced as a taxpayer to contribute to the propagation of Islamic beliefs and practices predicated upon Shariah law," insisted the original version of the lawsuit, which named former Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman CEO) Henry Paulson as a plaintiff.

Murray "objects to and is harmed by the United States government’s policy and practice of approving, endorsing, promoting, funding, and supporting Sharia-compliant finance," asserts the lawsuit. "The government’s endorsement of Islamic law sends a message to Plaintiff, who is a non-adherent to Islam, that he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, and an accompanying message to those who are adherents to Islam that they are insiders, favored members of the political community," continues the brief, which was written by someone who is a stranger to concision.

The specific amount extorted from Murray to subsidize AIG’s "Sharia-compliant" investments may be infinitesimal, but under Madison’s "three pence" standard, it’s the principle that matters, not the size of the injury.

A demand for summary judgment filed by the More Center earlier this year invoked the Supreme Court’s 1947 ruling in Everson v. Board of Education that "No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion."

Murray’s contention that no American should be forced to subsidize Sharia in any form is incontestably correct, as is his objection to the utterly unconstitutional federal takeover of AIG. However, it’s difficult to see how he has standing to sue, given that he volunteered his services to establish Sharia law in Iraq and Afghanistan — a fact proudly detailed in his lawsuit.

"From March 2003 to October 2003, Plaintiff was deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom," recounts the lawsuit. "During this time, Plaintiff served as a Marine infantryman and was tasked with providing security for vital refueling and arming points throughout the initial combat phase of the war. These duties consisted of countless and stressful hours devoted to convoy security, manning perimeter defensive positions, and conducting combat patrols in hostile enemy territory in numerous locations throughout southern Iraq."

Thanks to Murray’s efforts, and those offered by hundreds of thousands of other Americans in uniform — not to mention an estimated $3 trillion stolen from American taxpayers — Sharia law is now firmly established in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This fact is acknowledged by Stephen C. Coughlin, an attorney and Major in the U.S. Army Reserve who is, according to his bio, "often cited as the Pentagon’s leading expert on the nexus between Islamic law and jihad."

"The direct subordination of the law of the land to Shari’ah is reflected in the national constitutions of many Islamic countries, including the Constitutions the United States Government had oversight in drafting — both Afghanistan and Iraq," writes Maj. Coughlin:

"For example, Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution states that ‘Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.[...] No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.’ The Constitution of Afghanistan makes the association as well in Article 2 [Religions] where it states (1) The religion of the State of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam (2) Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law" — the latter qualification effectively defining out of existence the "free exercise" clause immediately preceding it.

Maj. Coughlin’s analysis is devastating to Murray’s argument, which rests on the idea that he suffers a tangible and continuing injury by being forced to subsidize, in minuscule amounts, some peripheral business dealings by AIG.

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William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.

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