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.




George Will the Atheist and FDR the Christian

September 24, 2014

In an interview with a Nick Hahn, conservative columnist George Will admitted frankly that he is an atheist. “An agnostic is someone who is not sure; I’m pretty sure,” Will said. “I see no…


Climate, Fossil Fuels & the Global Poor

September 19, 2014

The Cornwall Alliance has organized “Protect the Poor: Ten Reasons to Oppose Harmful Climate Change Policies.” It urges prioritizing the interests of the global poor by prioritizing the wider availability of cheap energy, which…

Israeli settlers protest in West Bank

IRD to Sponsor “People of the Land” Conference Examining Christians and Israel

September 18, 2014

Polls show that U.S. Evangelicals remain strongly pro-Israel. But an increasing number in parachurch groups, Evangelical schools and missions groups are endorsing pro-Palestinian political activism.


The Cracker Barrel’s Unbroken Circle

September 18, 2014

This evening at the Cracker Barrel in North Carolina the music filling the restaurant was the famous folk hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” The chorus is familiar to most: Will the circle be…


Senator Cruz, Mideast Christians & Israel

September 11, 2014

At the banquet of the “In Defense of Christians” conference in Washington, DC last evening, which I attended, some in the hotel ballroom crowd of about 900 booed Senator Ted Cruz when he extolled…


Resisting Occupation?

September 10, 2014

Last week an impressive new monument was dedicated near my home on the site of a freed slave cemetery. About 1700 escaped slaves, or contrabands, were buried there during the Civil War and just…


United Methodism’s Insoluble Division

September 5, 2014

Recently United Methodist Bishop Scott Jones helpfully compiled a list of the various proposals aimed at solving our denomination’s more than 40 year debate over sexual ethics. What is striking is the implausibility of…


Japan’s Surrender & a Protestant Ethos

September 5, 2014

This week was the 69th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in WWII, at a simple, dignified ceremony on the U.S.S. Missouri, with General Douglas MacArthur presiding. Over 30 million had died in the Pacific theater,…


Protestant Prelates Oppose Force Against ISIS

September 4, 2014

Why do oldline Protestant spokespersons and officials continue to ignore historic Christian teachings about Just War and pretend that our fallen world is other than what it is? A recent letter to President Obama…


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…