Theocratic Pol Indicted on Terrorism Related Charges
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 07:54:20 PM EST
Back in the 1980's then-Rep. Mark Siljander (R-MI) was one of America's leading theocratic politicians. He was a high profile member of the Christian Right, and a close political ally of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Today he is the posterboy for how the Framers of the Constitution and the ratifying states got it right when they proscribed religious oaths and tests for public office; protected the rights of individual conscience; discouraged religious supremacism and resolutely separated church and state.

Diarist Addison, over at Daily Kos writes:

In a story that unites the terrorism, theocrats, and lobbyists, former Reagan-appointed UN delegate and Michigan Congressman Mark D. Siljander (R) has been indicted on charges of involvement in a terrorist fundraising ring that raised and sent $130,000 to an al-Qaida affiliated group that aimed to kill American troops in Afghanistan. Siljander, who served from 1981-87, had been hired as a lobbyist for the group in their attempt to get off the United States' list of registered terrorist groups.

At any given moment, one person's fundamentalism is another person's heresy. (The most orthodox of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and so on, for example, agree on little other than male supremacy; oppose gay rights and reproductive, rights not to mention more enlightened approaches to sexuality and separation of church and state.) While disagreements are eternal, so must be the recognition that no one's religious fundamentals are necessarily a good prescription for public policy, let alone as constitutional principles.

The Kansas City Star reports:

A Kansas City grand jury has charged a defunct charity in Columbia with sending money to an Afghan terrorist with ties to al Qaida and the Taliban.

The indictment, returned early this afternoon, also accuses a former U.S. congressman of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The new charges also accuse Mark Deli Siljander ... of receiving $50,000 from the charity in 2004. Siljander, who operates a Washington D.C. public relations firm, was hired to lobby Congress to remove the charity from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations suspected of being involved in supporting international terrorism.

The Detroit Free Press added that

The 42-count indictment also names as defendants five men connected to the Islamic American Relief Agency in Columbia, Mo. The agency closed in October 2004, the statement said.

The indictment charges IARA with sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar "has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan."

The charges "paints a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein.

Siljander's lobbying group is Global Strategies, Inc. Its list of "References" includes former president George H.W. Bush, and sitting members of Congress from both parties.  No doubt, the tale of Siljander will be told in some circles as a cautionary tale about the temptations of Beltway Insiderism. For others, it will epitomize the problem of the Culture of Corruption in which public officials use and abuse public office to gain experience and contacts that become highly saleable commodities after they leave office.

The framers of the Constitution understood well, when they put forward Article 6, that just because a politician swore an oath to uphold Christianity or any of its factions, that did not inherently mean that that man was honest, competent, or even true to his own faith.  Swearing to uphold the Constitution has become the standard: for all of the right reasons.

The right to believe as we will, as epressed in the First Amendment and in Article 6 also extends to our elected officials. Not only are they not required to believe anything specific, or to say that they do, but a deeper understanding of the nature of beliefs is at work here. Not only do many people not live up to their stated beliefs or moral standards, but perhaps more importantly, the views of most people change over time. That was certainly the experience of most of the framers of the Constitution, efforts by various religious and non-religious factions to put them in little boxes not withstanding. Thus the men who wrote the Constitution understood that the imposition of cookie cutter declarations of orthodoxy were rediculous on their face. Religious oaths were as preposterous and tyrannical as state churches to a society of free minds. Today, the Christian nationalists, and other theocratic factions, and those who enable them, make their careers demagoguing theocratic politics. Some are more serious about it than others.

Mark Siljander is a fine poster boy for how wrong we can be if we base our support for a candidate, a political faction or even a political party, primarily on supposed fealty to religious orthodoxy. It ought to give even the most religiously orthodox and politically conservative of the Religious Right, pause: A man once thought to hold firmly to true conservative Christian principles in national office would one-day, apparently trade on that office to become a lobbyist for alleged Islamic terrorists.




Display:
is a cautionary tale not only for theocratic pols, but for the professional panders in Washington (and elsewhere) who seek to sell us not only candidates, but on the idea that faith is or should be, a political commodity.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 12:52:09 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Short Takes
Pando Daily:  Journalist Mark Ames has published a must-read story about how Reason,the flagship magazine of libertarianism, published a special issue in 1976 promoting......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
GOP Leader Questions Candidate About Hate Group That Advocates Death Squads - Updated
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post. The head of Maryland's Republican Party, Joe Cluster, has called local candidate Michael Peroutka to the woodshed for a......
By jhutson (3 comments)
Short Takes
Bilgrimage:  Bill Lindsey discusses "an outstanding series of articles" by Frank Cocozzelli here at Talk to Action, originally posted in 2007, about the close......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 1)
In light of the recent US Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby -- which exempts, closely held corporations that invoke "sincerely held......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 2)
The following is the second installment of a three part sub-series regarding the influence of non-mainstream, ultra-traditional Catholics now sitting on the US Supreme......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 3)
"The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (8 comments)
Access Denied: The Religious Right Opens Up A New Front On Its War Against Birth Control
Some commentators continue to insist that the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was no big deal. It's a......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
William Barber Takes Us to Church at Netroots Nation
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the leader of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina gave a rousing, perhaps historic keynote speech at Netroots......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Hobby Lobby Case Linked To Secretive National Prayer Breakfast Group, "The Family"
As I introduce my new Center Against Religious Extremism report Hobby Lobby Case Linked To Secretive National Prayer Breakfast Group, "The Family"), In 2010......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
Lessons in Taking the Long View in the Long Form
Historian Leo P. Ribuffo recently published a wise and erudite essay at History News Network. In it he discusses trends among historians regarding how......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Missing Pieces of the Story of Sun Myung Moon
The recent coverage of the life and death of Richard Mellon Scaife, a transformational figure in recent American history, was pretty underwhelming. (Fortunately, our......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
When I Won One Over My Old (Former) Friend Jerry Falwell
July 13th was the anniversary of our friend Jerry Sloan's confrontation on live television with Moral Majority founder, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. This......
By JerrySloan (1 comment)
Vatican Defrocks A Bishop Over Sexual Abuse - But Not Finn.
Pope Francis recently indicated he is serious about ending child sex abuse and cover-ups by Catholic prelates by defrocking a former apostolic nuncio (a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Bob Jones University and the Real Roots of the Religious Right
Historian Randall Balmer notes writing in Christian Ethics Today, that the real beginnings of the Religious Right lies not in 1973 Roe v. Wade,......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Becket Or Wreck It?: Little-Known Religious Right Group At Heart Of Hobby Lobby Case
The Supreme Court's recent (and horrendous) ruling in the Hobby Lobby case dealing with workers' access to contraceptives has turned the spotlight on the......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)

Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (1 comment)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.