Tuesday, June 9, 2020

#2347: Mark Tooley

Mark Tooley is a Methodist writer and president of the D.C.-based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a wingnut fundie think tank vehemently opposed to any hint of religious or social liberalism. Tooley is also a signatory to the Manhattan declaration.

Like most fundies, Tooley is concerned with tendencies and movements that he perceives as threats to Christianity or as going against the gospels, and he interprets the latter threats pretty broadly. Occupy Wall Street, for instance, was not only a movement dominated by feelings of “grievance, entitlement, idealism, and youthful naiveté” but by activists who “want an all-powerful state to seize and redistribute wealth according to some imagined just formula […] It’s a utopian dream, not based on the Gospels [note the elegant way he just throws that in there, without even trying to back it up], always monstrous when attempted, and premised more on resentment than godly generosity,” wrote Tooley, “[b]ut it’s a message that will always have an audience in a covetous world.” Yes, in the process Tooley mistakes for reasoning, Occupy Wall Street turns into the greedy part here, driven by material desires. And yes: the reasoning is rather good for illustrating something important about Tooley’s (and his ilk’s) particular brand of Christianity: it’s the poor who exhibit greed and materialism and thus sin. 

Par for the course from this type of source, we suppose. As is Tooley’s views on gay marriage. To the World Congress of Families in 2015 he declared that too many Christians fail to realize that God himself has ordered government to fight same-sex marriage and access to abortion. Then he complained about unchristian government overreach, pointing out that “God’s vocation for government” is apparently limited to “providing for public order – jailing criminals and deterring or defeating external aggressors”, not to be a “maternal provider, who feeds, clothes, heals, educates and reaffirms,” callings that should be left to the discretion of parents, families and the church. Yet the state should apparently definitely intervene in social issues when people have views Tooley doesn’t like, and yes: he is utterly oblivious to his own flirtations with the limits of coherence here. The IRD has also criticized the U.S. State Department for promoting the human rights of LGBT people.

Tooley is generally very concerned about immigration border security and the IRD has criticized evangelicals supportive of immigration reform, such as the Evangelical Immigration Table, for being front groups for George Soros. Indeed, perhaps Tooley’s main qualification for receiving an entry in our Encyclopedia is his criticism of pro-immigration reform leaders’ ostensibly  “superficial ‘God-talk’” and his suggestion that religious leaders should not be spending their time on immigration reform, which is not of the same “moral order” as “marriage, human life, and religious liberty;” indeed, when speaking about immigration, Tooley says it is “very problematic when people of faith start to claim that the Bible gives them very direct guidance on a particular contemporary political issue.” Because he and the IRD would never invoke the Bible on immigration or other contemporary political issues.

Diagnosis: Lack of self-awareness is common, and we are probably all guilty of it at times, but rarely do anyone reach the rarefied levels of self-delusion inhabited by deranged fundie Mark Tooley. He is, however, a force to be reckoned with on the religious right.

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