Prior to joining the IRD in 1994, Mark worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and is a native of Arlington, Virginia. A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988, when he wrote a study about denominational funding of pro-Marxist groups for his local congregation. He currently attends a United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Tooley became president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) in 2009. He joined IRD in 1994 to found its United Methodist committee (UMAction). He is the author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church, published in 2008, and Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century, published in 2012. His articles about the political witness of America's churches have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, Patheos, Washington Post On Faith, World, Christianity Today, First Things, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, Washington Examiner, Human Events, The Washington Times, The Review of Faith and International Affairs, Touchstone, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, and elsewhere. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television.
The National Council of Churches issued a not bad statement about the murder of American diplomats in Libya by radical Islamists. Here it is:
“Persons of faith and good will everywhere are deeply distressed by reports that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his staff were killed in an attack Tuesday on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
The attack has been appropriately condemned by both the U.S. and Libya governments. Member communions of the National Council of Churches USA denounce this mindless violence as a travesty and mindless rejection of the historic precepts of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, which are based on God’s love and a peaceful regard for all God’s people.
Our hearts and prayers go out for the families and loved ones of Mr. Stevens and the other victims of the attack. We are sadly aware that this attack took place on the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. We reiterate a statement we made we made then and ask all people to abide by its call: “We assert the vision of community, tolerance, compassion, justice, and the sacredness of human life, which lies at the heart of all of our religious traditions.”
The statement would have been stronger had it mentioned that the killers were radical Islamists. But it commendably avoided mention of the obscure anti Islamic film that supposedly inspired anti-American Islamist violence in Libya and Egypt.
Less admirably the head of the liberal New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good focused on incendiary Florida clergy Terry Jones as the main problem. Infamous for burning a Koran, Jones reputedly touted the new anti Islamic video.
“I have no sympathy for anyone who would assassinate a US ambassador,” said United Methodist clergy Steven Martin, who co-founded his group with liberal evangelicals Richard Cizik and David Gushee. “But I have even less sympathy for filmmakers who spread hatred and for pastors who knowingly incite violence.” So crazy Rev. Jones is apparently worse than Islamist killers.
“Those who attacked Amb. Stevens, thanks to sociopaths like Terry Jones and filmmaker Sam Bacile [who's possibly not a real person], believe we are a violent people bent on domination,” Martin intoned. “Sadly, there is some truth to that perception.” He also reported: “Regrettably, Christian Evangelicals have a reputation of standing on the side of exceptionalism and even bigotry. It’s high time that we evangelicals listen to the command of Jesus to love our neighbors, even our enemies, and that those of us who strive to follow this command get out and speak, in the spirit of love, to those who sow seeds of fear and hate. Sam Bacile and Terry Jones must be stopped. Evangelicals are the ones who can stop them.”
A few years ago Rev. Martin produced his own video exposé of IRD called “Renewal or Ruin,” which darkly portrayed IRD as the centrifuge of a vast plot to subvert United Methodism from its rightful liberal control. It was flamboyantly absurd. We at IRD enjoyed it!! And a few zealous IRD critics likely relished having their worst fears confirmed. Probably nobody else saw it. Maybe IRD should have rioted over Rev. Martin’s “hate” film that insulted our religious beliefs. But we preferred to believe that in America everybody is rightfully free to say what they want.
In contrast, murderously radical Islamists reject freedom and would have us all fall prostrate before their slavish whim, if they could. God willing, they will never prevail.Google+