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


Priebus' RNC Israel Trip Organizer: "Wage War To Restore a Christian America"
image, right: Pastor David Lane, screenshot from Right Wing Watch video "Where are the champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
The Theocrats' New Clothes: A Naked Call for Political Dominion
Like the monarch in Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, the theocratic ambitions of the organizers of the big Christian Right......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
The Washington Post recently underscored the larger point in this post, which goes far beyond the issues of the GOP diversity program. So I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Unholy Alliance for Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety
When I obtained a post from a private email listserv of gun control advocates, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Then I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bobby Jindal's Big Rally for Christian Right Dominion
There is a big Christian Right rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, January 24th. The event, called The Response, is intended to, among......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Dominionism, Gov. Rick Perry and The Response Rally of 2011
The David Pakman Show recently rebroadcast this "Classic Interview"  with Rachel Tabachnick in which they discuss her groundbreaking work on the New Apostolic Reformation,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Freedom as Revolution
In which I discuss Religious Freedom Day on the David Pakman Show. I said, among other things, "The idea of religious freedom was one......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama's Religious Freedom Day Proclamation
As is the annual custom, Mr. Obama issued the the Presidential Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, 2015. I have republished the whole thing after......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize the Day (Religious Freedom Day) on Social Media
Today is Religious Freedom Day! And there are ways to participate on social media on this, the most important national Day that most of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel
"Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel" is a new article in Tikkun Magazine, (January 2015) by Chip Berlet and......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses
Here are the Recommendations from the Report "Constructing Campus Conflict: Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses, 2007-2011: published by Political Research Associates, 2014......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)
What Did Jefferson & 18th Century Evangelicals Have in Common?
What did Jefferson and 18th century evangelicals have in common?  If you guessed separation of church and state, you can go to the head......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Waking the Sleeping Beast of Religious Liberty
This piece originally appeared as an op-ed at LGBTQ Nation. Something remarkable happened in the run up to the decision of the U.S. Supreme......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rousing Remarks: Remembering Mario Cuomo's Powerful Speech On Religion And Politics
Two memorable speeches were delivered in the early 1980s on separation of church and state. The first was by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Huckabee Dumps Fox News -- Might Jump in to the Race for 2016
According to a statement on his web site, tonight will be Mike Huckabee's last show on Fox where he has held forth on Saturday......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)

Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (0 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (0 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
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 (2 comments)
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 (5 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 (5 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 (2 comments)
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 (1 comment)
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)

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.