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; Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century, published in 2012; and The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War, published in 2015. 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.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markdtooley




God, America & Ronald Reagan

October 2, 2015

One of my hobbies is visiting presidential homes, and last week I crossed three sites off my list.   Herbert Hoover’s tiny birthplace is in West Branch, Iowa.  He’s recalled typically as a starched…


Reviving Wesleyanism

September 20, 2015

The “New Room” conference last week outside Nashville, hosted by Seedbed, a publishing arm of Asbury Seminary, attracted about 600 Wesleyans across denominations, including at least four United Methodist bishops, for spiritual and intellectual…


Jesuit Interview – Conservative Protestants and Pope Francis: 20 Questions for Mark Tooley

September 20, 2015

The following is an interview in America magazine by Jesuit scholastic Sean Salai: You’ve been director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Protestant religious think tank, since 2009. What have been…

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Agencia Brasil under Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil)

Pope Francis’ U.S. Visit Begins Tuesday

September 18, 2015

“U.S. Catholics can learn from the struggles of mainline Protestants: don’t go wobbly on doctrine and distinct identity,” says IRD’s Mark Tooley ahead of Pope Francis’ U.S. visit.


Two Popes Across Thirty-Six Years

September 18, 2015

I can remember, at age fourteen, the visit of John Paul II to Washington, D.C. in 1979. His helicopter landed on the National Mall near where the WWII Memorial is now. “Here come the…


Hillary’s Methodism

September 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s much publicized visit to Foundry United Methodist Church yesterday brought back many memories.  My first assignment with IRD 20 years ago was to research and publish an article on Foundry’s then controversial…


Liberal Baptist Ethicist David Gushee & Gun Worship

September 7, 2015

Liberal Baptist ethicist David Gushee of Mercer University is a serious man who has written a silly column about the idolatry of gun ownership. “Some will find this post sacrilegious,” Gushee opens his Religion…


Kim Davis, Christianity & Civil Disobedience

September 6, 2015

There’s a debate among Christians about the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk now is jail for refusing to certify same-sex marriages. Should Christian office holders enforce laws at odds with their…


Denali vs. McKinley

September 2, 2015

By virtual presidential decree, the tallest mountain on the continent will be renamed from Mt. McKinley to Denali, which means “high one” or “great one” in local tribal language.  Apparently Alaska politicians long wanted…


Methodist Pilgrimage

August 31, 2015

Yesterday I fulfilled a longtime dream of pilgrimage to the oldest Methodist church in America, Saint George United Methodist in Philadelphia, dating to 1767. Everybody in early American Methodism was there at some point,…


Death of Methodist Friend (David Stanley 1928-2015)

August 27, 2015

IRD board member David Stanley died yesterday, age 86, just a few weeks after his dear wife of 67 years, Jeanie.  He was a marvelous man in every way: generous, smart, patient, kind, meticulous,…


A Weak Christian Response to Iranian Nukes That Could Make War More, Not Less, Likely

August 27, 2015

The National Council of Churches has organized a letter of religious voices effusively praising the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to support supposedly the “most robust monitoring and inspection regime every negotiated” that…