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 Executive Committee of the board of directors of the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM) has written the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) asking BSA not to proceed with setting aside its current longtime prohibition on open homosexuality. The February 19 letter, addressed to BSA chief executive officer Wayne Brock, is signed by Mississippi Bishop James Swanson as president of United Methodist Men and Gil Hanke as general secretary. Initially Hanke had expressed support for the BSA’s proposed idea of allowing local units to decide their own policy. United Methodist Men preside over United Methodism’s scouting ministries.
BSA’s policy will be debated at its 1400 member national council in May. Earlier this month the BSA executive board declined to approve the proposed policy change after widespread protests, including from many religious groups that sponsor Scouts. About 70 percent of local Scout units are hosted by churches or other religious groups. The largest denominational sponsors are Mormon, United Methodist and Roman Catholic. Some corporate sponsors of BSA have pressured BSA to abandon its disapproval of open homosexuality.
The GCUMM letter noted having received “many phone calls and emails” since the BSA’s proposed policy change became public. Many threatened to quit BSA as leaders or donors if BSA adopted the proposed new policy, and many were “angry” that churches were not better consulted about the policy shift. The letter reports that a “few” expressed support for the policy change, but overall the response has been “overwhelmingly” negative.
“This potential shift from BSA places GCUMM’s primary goal, our core value – expansion and retention – at risk,” the GCUMM letter said. “If approved, scouting programs would decrease, and new programs would be harder to begin due to the uncertainty this proposal has generated.” The letter complained there had not been adequate time for United Methodist Men and churches to consider the “legal and spiritual consequences” of a BSA shift.
The GCUMM executive committee reported voting unanimously to ask BSA not to implement the proposed policy change at this time so as to allow United Methodist churches to research the implications. It also asked for a “new relationship” between BSA and faith groups to develop a “new, faith-filled response” to Scout law. And the Swanson/Hanke letter asked Brock to share their communication with the upcoming BSA national meeting.
Here is the letter:Google+