Michigan Man Files Suit to Stop AIG Bailout on Religious Grounds

December 17, 2008

A Michigan man is challenging the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc., claiming the move is illegal because the insurer has financial products that promote Islam and are anti-Christian.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday, Dec. 15 in federal court in Detroit by the Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, which pursues cases on behalf of Christian causes.

It says the government is violating the First Amendment with billions of dollars of aid for AIG. The clause prevents the U.S. government from endorsing a religion.

The lawsuit says AIG offers financial services that comply with Sharia principles, specifically Takaful insurance. Islamic or Sharia-compliant finance bans investments that pay interest or sponsor alcohol, tobacco, pork, gambling or weapons.

“The Takaful insurance business of AIG is pervasively sectarian,” the lawsuit alleges. “Its secular purposes and its Sharia-based Islamic religious mission are inextricably intertwined.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kevin Murray of Washtenaw County, a Roman Catholic and Iraq War veteran.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli had no comment.

A University of Louisville law professor predicts the lawsuit will be quickly dismissed.

“The notion that this bailout of AIG will advance religion is preposterous,” said Sam Marcosson, who has written about the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

“The bailout was trying to prevent disastrous events for the economy. Any religious effects that might be alleged in this lawsuit were not on anyone’s mind,” he said.

The More center is named for a 16th century English statesman who was made a saint by the Roman Catholic church in 1935. It was started in 1999 by Domino’s Pizza Inc. founder Tom Monaghan and Richard Thompson, a former Oakland County prosecutor who serves as president and chief counsel.

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