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.
Today IRD was graced by a visit from our board member Graham Walker, president of Patrick Henry College in Virginia and himself a theologian and scholar originally from The Wesleyan Church. He is today quite active in the Anglican Church in North America but remains committed to Wesleyan Methodist distinctives. Patrick Henry is a Christian school popular with students who have been home schooled, and its curriculum emphasizes a classical education.
Walker spoke to the IRD staff about the challenges posed by Libertarian influenced beliefs increasingly popular among some young evangelicals, especially among some who call themselves Young, Restless and Reformed. Some in their school of thought advocate that government and politics to some extent step back from “private” issues such as marriage, abortion, drugs, or prostitution. He warned that the absence of policies by government is itself promoting a particular policy, and there is really on way to fully “privatize” these issues. If for example government were to completely privatize marriage it would be teaching that marriage has no public purpose. Individuals may strive to be neutral, but government and polity cannot be similarly neutral.
Law is itself a “public teacher,” Walker emphasized. Much of the impetus behind evangelicals wanting political withdrawal from “private” issues represents desperation to avoid the “awkwardness” of culture wars. He noted that post moderns love Libertarianism because it often implies there is no “accepted moral truth.” This postmodern stance resonates with a certain vision of some Calvinist theology, which presumes that those outside of faith are outside of God’s redemptive rule and are “vessels of wrath.” Walker countered that God does not “create any person to break His laws.” Walker concluded by asserting his opposition to so-called “Christian values,” because the term “values” itself implies a moral relativism. Of course, Walker’s remarks provoked a lively discussion by IRD’s mostly young staff, some of whom are Reformed and perhaps even Restless!Google+