Mark Tooley

Mark Tooley

Prior to joining the IRD in 1994, Mark worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency. 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 attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Virginia.  Mark 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, First Things, Patheos, World, Christianity Today, 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.




Churches, Division & Sex

September 1, 2014

Here’s a review by my friend Robert Benne, a distinguished Lutheran theologian and ethicist at Roanoke College: The Morally Divided Body: Ethical Disagreement and the Disunity of the Church Pro Ecclesia Series Editors: Michael…

Christians from Mosul took refuge in this Iraqi town before ISIS attacked, forcing them to flee again. (Photo credit:  Allen Kakony for Aletia)

Is ISIS Prompting Reappraisal of Pacifism and Just War?

August 21, 2014

ISIS invasion of Iraq and subsequent horrors, for which Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority is a chief victim, has reanimated talk about Christian Just War teaching.


Methodists Doing Immigration Right

August 13, 2014

How churches should address immigration is showcased by recent help from United Methodist congregations for a former Afghan military translator and his family who fled to Northern Virginia to escape Taliban reprisals. Fleeing Afghanistan…


Religious Roots of Nixon’s Legacy

August 10, 2014

August 9 was the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency. I saw Nixon once in person, in June 1973, when I was age 8. The Watergate story was a year old…

U.S. Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) (photo: Washington Free Beacon)

IRD Thanks Rep. Wolf Spotlighting Iraqi Christians’ Plight

August 6, 2014

Over the past two weeks, U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) has given a series of speeches on the House floor detailing atrocities committed against religious minorities in northern Iraq and insisting that the U.S. Congress and Administration respond.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Methodism

August 6, 2014

Commentary about the new Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography by Charles Marsh, Strange Glory, has predictably focused on the book’s speculation about the German theologian’s sexual bent, although Marsh agrees that Bonhoeffer was chaste. Getting less…


Nuns on the Bus vs. ISIS?

August 5, 2014

The liberal Catholic activist group Network, headed by Sister Simone Campbell, famous for “Nuns on the Bus,” is asking supporters to urge President Obama to exercise strong “diplomacy” against the “violence” in northern Iraq….


Jesus, Elvis & Bishop Spong

August 1, 2014

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong used to be a big deal. In the 1980s he appeared on talk shows and wrote provocative books suggesting the Virgin Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier, or…


Unveiling IRD’s Symposium on Social Justice

August 1, 2014

“Social justice” advocacy in the churches typically means attaching the Gospel to political causes of the Left: big government, swelling welfare and entitlement state, draconian solutions for apocalyptic environmental warnings, hostility to free markets…


The Limits of Christian Perfectionism

July 31, 2014

Recently I passed the above United Methodist church touting its anti-gun stance. United Methodism has officially backed gun control since the early 1960s. This stance is just one of many examples of official Methodism’s…


The Church Is a Family

July 27, 2014

Christians best advocate for human love and dignity by demonstrating it among themselves, especially by speaking when any part of the Body of Christ suffers for the faith.


Astrology, British Health Care, Nancy Reagan & Christendom

July 25, 2014

A British member of Parliament, from the Conservative Party, is creating a stir by advocating the utility of astrology, especially relating to national health care. He recently told the House of Commons: “I am…