Mark D. Siljander
Mark Siljander during the 98th US Congress
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Michigan's 4th district
April 21, 1981 - January 3, 1987
|Member of the Michigan House of Representatives|
from the 42nd district
|Deputy ambassador to the United Nations General Assembly|
Mark Deli Siljander
June 11, 1951
Mark Deli Siljander (born June 11, 1951) is a former Republican U.S. Representative and deputy United Nations ambassador from the state of Michigan. He is the author of A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, which won the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award.
Siljander was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended the public schools, having graduated in 1969 from Oak Park and River Forest High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1972 and a Master of Arts from Western Michigan in 1973. He served as a trustee on Fabius Township Board in St. Joseph County, Michigan, from 1972 to 1976 and also worked as a real estate broker.
At the time of Siljander's election, Michigan's 4th congressional district was in southwestern Michigan and included Three Rivers and Kalamazoo. Time magazine noted that the district was predominantly conservative, having elected only one Democrat in [the twentieth] century, in 1932.
Siljander was known as a dogmatic social conservative. He criticized President Ronald Reagan's Supreme Court appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor.Time characterized him as a Fundamentalist Christian and reported on Siljander's election:
"I'm part of the silent majority that was heard Nov. 4 [when President Reagan was elected]," says Siljander. "My support comes from morally concerned citizens who are sick of the situation in this country." Siljander pledges to battle the Equal Rights Amendment, pornography, abortion, school busing and "big spending." He will champion the neutron bomb, the MX missile and prayer in public schools.
On January 27, 1981, incumbent Republican Party U.S. Congressman David A. Stockman from Michigan's 4th District resigned to become President Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the following special Republican primary, Siljander ranked first in a seven candidate field with a plurality of 37%. He defeated Stockman-endorsed tax attorney John Globensky (36%) and State Senator John Mowat (22%). In the April 1981 special general election, he defeated Democratic Cass County Commissioner Johnie Rodebush 69%-29%.
Siljander was challenged in the next Republican primary by attorney Harold Schuitmaker and defeated him 56%-44%. In the general election, he won re-election to a full term with 60% of the vote.
In 1984, Siljander sponsored a single-sentence amendment which read, "For the purposes of this Act, the term 'person' shall include unborn children from the moment of conception." Alexander Cockburn referred to the Siljander Amendment as "the most far-reaching of all the measures dreamed up by the conservative right to undercut Roe v. Wade." It failed 186-219.
· H.Con.Res.262 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "A concurrent resolution regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Laos, and Cambodia." Expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should demand compliance by the Soviet Union with existing treaties on chemical warfare as a prerequisite for starting the Geneva arms talks.
· H.R.6325 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Housing and Automobile Industries Recovery Act of 1982".
· H.R. 4985 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Comprehensive AFDC Improvement Act of 1981-Part I"
· H.J. Res. 279 - 98th Congress, Sponsor [passed, amended]: "A joint resolution expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the reduction of emigration from the Soviet Union." Expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should urge Soviet compliance with the Helsinki accords and the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights at the U.N. General Assembly and at all other appropriate international meetings as they relate to the emigration of Soviet Jews.
· H. Res. 147 - 98th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "A resolution concerning observance by the Government of Romania of the Human Rights of the Hungarians in Transylvania, especially the right of self-determination." Declares that the House of Representatives deplores the denial of the rights of Hungarians and people of other nationalities in Transylvania by the Romanian Government. Requests the President and the Secretary of State to discuss the human rights of the Hungarians in Transylvania with the Government of Romania.
· H.R.4157 - 99th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Child Abuse Victims Rights Act of 1986"
Siljander was appointed by President Reagan as an alternate representative to the United Nations General Assembly, serving from September 1987 to September 1988. He was an unsuccessful candidate in 1992 for nomination to the 103rd Congress from Virginia. He stated then his message was, "not religious values as much as it's common-sense American traditional values." He campaigned on a budget freeze, a ten percent flat tax and a line-item veto. In the Republican primary, Siljander came in second to Henry N. Butler, a law professor at George Mason University.
Siljander is president of Bridges to Common Ground, an NGO dedicated to promoting peace and understanding, with a specific agenda of undermining the process and causes of Islamic radicalization by bridging the divide among the faiths. The website hosts an unsourced list of "successes" ending wars and solving crisis from 1994 to 2015.
Siljander's book, A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide was a 2009 Nautilus Silver Award Winner, and has a foreword written by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, with whom Siljander worked closely to resolve the humanitarian disaster in Darfur.
Siljander founded Trac5, "utilizing distinctive strategies toward reconciliation and peace in the context of the Abrahamic faiths," with the stated goal to build a bridge between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
In November 2006, Siljander gave a speech at Regent's Park College, Oxford, entitled "Overcoming the Muslim Western Divide: Seven Bridges to the Common Ground." Siljander has studied Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew languages, and was affiliated academically with the Edinburgh Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies.
On January 16, 2008, Siljander was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri on five counts including money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. On January 28, 2008, Siljander pleaded not guilty in Federal court before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Also, under the government's own headline, "Terrorism and National Security", the Justice Department included the Siljander guilty plea as one of their two announced successes against terrorism. The January 2008 news conference provoked a firestorm of reporting, that continued through 2013.
The day following the press conference, the Justice Department's indictment News Release corrected the "terrorism" statements by stating, "It is important to note that the indictment does not charge any of the defendants with material support of terrorism, nor does it allege that they knowingly financed acts of terror." It went largely unreported.
Upon his release from prison, Siljander publicly protested his innocence, and claimed that two Muslim co-defendants (whom he had never met nor spoken with) had been induced to give false testimony against him in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Siljander's open letter to his newsletter subscribers was quoted in full in several venues, and contains the following narrative:
Throughout my 15 years in various levels of government, I tried to make the world safer by political means. This failed. However, these experiences led me to revelations that address the needs of a dominant issue in our time--bridging the growing divide among Christians, Muslims & Jews. Over time this work produced a model for peacemaking and problem solving in complex crises in places like Iraq, Libya and Sudan. These efforts gained traction for peacemaking with U.S. & world leaders; while my controversial book on the subject, A Deadly Misunderstanding, was being readied for a major release. My approach required working with both friends and enemies of our country.
Unfortunately, certain "interests" felt bridging the faiths and forging alternatives to war was a betrayal of my former associations. My success brought not accolades but disdain, and was perceived as a threat to justifying our expanding intelligence/eavesdropping apparatus and the trillions spent fighting the "War on Terror."
To support this exciting peace and faith bridging work, we raised funds for travel, research and writing. One donor, a 25-year-old U.S. based, government approved Muslim charity, was recommended by one of my Muslim associates in the work. The charity's principals were later indicted on grounds of supporting terrorists and misappropriating [U.S.] government grant funds. Those opposed to my work seized this opportunity to discredit me by insisting I testify against the charity. I refused to give a false testimony and was consequently indicted on outlandish charges of money laundering & conspiracy. This exploded into a media frenzy tying me with terror funding, even though the judge reminded prosecutors that the case had nothing to do with terrorism or national security. After four years of exaggerated accusations, all major charges were dropped, leaving only obstruction of justice for claiming to the FBI that I had not lobbied for the Muslim charity and [for] not registering as a lobbyist.