Tag: Institute on Religion & Democracy

The @RMNNetwork is Wrong, #ShaeferTrial #MinistryonTrial #TheCommunion @TheIRD @ConfessingMovement

This post represents one of the only posts I will make in the coming weeks. However, I thought this topic was important enough to warrant a special comment.


My friends of all stripes,


In response to the trial and sentencing of Rev. Frank Shaefer, #ShaeferTrial & #MinistryonTrial, I must say that the consternation over his de facto defrocking is inappropriate.


While Rev. Shaefer did this for different reasons, his actions constitute civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is a form of protest where the one who is disobedient is willing to accept the consequences of their actions, whether or not they believe the consequences are just.


One is civilly disobedient in order to bring attention to injustice of bigotry, in hopes that the injustice will be remedied. You do not do this in order to avoid consequences.


While I initially disagreed with the sentence, I think it is the most grace-filled, and henceforth, Wesleyan. He has the opportunity to remain a pastor. However, his point will not be served by rolling over and capitulating.


I do realize that, as merely an ally, I don't necessarily have a dog in this fight. However, as a global church that has existed in many forms for centuries, we must remember that it's not all about us and our trials.


The gospel cannot be forsaken for politics. When we do that, we lose hope and the reason we are all here in the first place. Don't get me wrong. Other parachurch organizations, like The Institute on Religion & Democracy and The Confessing Movement within the UMC, do this, as well. In many ways, they are the most virulent offenders. That does not mean we have to beat them to the bottom.


I do not wish to hurt any of my good friends on either side. However, I think – every once in a while – we need to be shown a bit of tough love.



@JohnLomperis & The Absence of Irony

John Lomperis is a United Methodist working for the pseudo-Methodist, Washington think-tank, The Institute on Religion & Democracy.

His latest piece seeks to disparage civil rights activists over revelations from the heinous murder of Matthew Shepherd.

However, the headline out of this article comes from a seemingly innocuous (for his subject matter) quote. This quote is supposed to be a backhanded slap at anti-Christian activists, but turns out to be quite a commentary on he and his group's “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” track record:

…we must never allow our passion for any cause, however righteous, allow us to cut the slightest corners of honesty or ethics in our work to promote the cause, no matter how “useful” or “necessary” such shortcuts may seem to be. Never commit the stupidity of thinking that God is okay with your doing evil just because someone else’s evil may be worse or your evil is being done in the name of good.

This “think-tank” advocates for a strike-first foreign policy, overwhelmingly against social programs, and is constantly identifying many (most, probably) of their targets as an enemy of the faith.

The arrogance they give off is overpowering, and their sense of self-awareness is non-existent.

This is just the latest incarnation of it.

IRD Intern @BrianKenMiller Criticizes Rowan Williams, Makes His Point For Him, @TheIRD

Pseudo-Methodist Washington think-tank The Institute on Religion & Democracy has interns.  If the goal is to produce people exactly as confused as they are, they are so nailing it! Brian Miller is the intern in question. He picked up on the comments of former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his comments on Western Christianity and

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NOT SURPRISED #1: @TheIRD & Xian Reality Television (NEW FEATURE)

'Cause, there's a hashtag for everything, nowadays


The Institute on Religion & Democracy is a bit late to this particular party.

Alexander Griswold – blogger for the IRD – belatedly critiques the reality show and the culture of reality TV in this article. The subject of the article is Preachers of L.A. – a reality show featuring mega church pastors living lavishly (too lavishly) in Los Angeles. Honestly, I agree with most of what Alex has to say. Unfortunately, he winds back to the IRD's “company line” by the end of the piece.

At the end of the piece, the fault for the behavior of the Christians featured in these shows lies with the producers of the shows and the popular culture that often makes fun of Christians – and not the people who perform the actions that make them look bad. His final critique goes like this:

But above all, my hope is that being unfairly targeted will move Christians to reject all shows that denigrate groups of people just to feed into viewers’ pride.

Did ya' get that? These pastors – and other reality TV subjects – are “unfairly targeted” for denigration. Apparently, the IRD has given up on the idea of people being personally responsible for their actions. Reality TV personalities must sign contracts and give permissions for these producers to air their content.

If that's the case, can you really say someone has been “unfairly targeted?”

Ultimately, this piece reacts to this story much like the IRD does to any other story about Christianity in popular culture – Christians are a persecuted majority. It's a poor, pitiful me approach to whatever the IRD supposedly exists to do.

I'm not surprised. In fact:




Pope Francis Sides With Me Against @TheIRD


A recent quote from the Pontiff


Pope Francis has done plenty to ingratiate himself to the widest possible audience – especially progressive and social justice-minded Christians, like myself.

In a papal tidbit I missed, he talks about the people in his own church who are stuck in an earlier time and think that the answer to Christendom’s problems lies in “going back” to some time when they were comfortable with things.

The Institute on Religion & Democracy is one example of a group within United Methodism which thinks that the answer to our denomination’s problems lies in reliving the 1950’s.

In an AP article, Nicole Winfield recalls how Pope Francis has publicly spoken about groups like the IRD:

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis’ election with concern – and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such “restoratist groups,” which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the church in the 21st century.

“Restoratist…navel-gazing retrogrades.”

I couldn’t put it any better myself.

The problem with groups who believe that looking back is the most-significant thing an organization can do to reform is that they are dangerous and out-of-touch.

And, honestly, it’s nice when I can use a story about the Pope to further question the credibility of organizations like the IRD.


Is @JohnLomperis “Skeevy” or “Hateful?”

"Irony" ft. John Lomperis


Before today, I wouldn't have characterized the IRD's UM Action Director John Lomperis as “skeevy” or “hateful.”

That was before today.

For, you see, I've read his latest diatribe against his fellow creatures of sacred worth in the LBGT community.

In response to Arizona laws that discriminate against and criminalize the behavior of transgender brothers and sisters who identify as a sex other than the one they were born with – by preventing them from using public bathrooms according to the sex they identify with – the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution stating the following:

  1. the Desert Southwest Annual Conference and the United Methodist

  2. 42 Churches of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference make the public statement that our

  3. 43 Churches and facilities (building, gathering spaces and bathrooms) are safe places for all

  4. 44 regardless of gender identity and that transgendered people may use the bathroom of their

  5. 45 choosing in our churches and affiliated buildings.

As you can see, this policy is designed to treat with dignity all of God's people – not just the ones people like John Lomperis are weirded out by.

Mr. Lomperis, however, decides it isn't enough to say he disagrees with it – he has to demean an entire class of people to get his point across.

Such an “open bathrooms” policy is ripe for abuse by a few perfectly heterosexual, non-gender-identity-disordered, perverted individuals who now seem to have an invitation in Desert Southwest UMC congregations to go into the opposite sex’s bathroom. If anyone questions them, they simply need to claim (perhaps with a sarcastic smirk) that they identify with that sex, at least that day. The resolution suggests no safeguards or concerns for such abuses.

Any church worth anything already has a “safe sanctuaries” policy that is designed to deal with such individuals to which he refers. In other words, it's a non-starter and an attempt to emotionally manipulate the reader into siding with him.

Along with using dog-whistles such as the term “gender-bending,” Lomperis just takes his shot (by lumping transgendered individuals into the same category with heterosexual abusers) at anything with which he doesn't personally agree – pretty skeevy, if you ask me.

He even tries to co-opt the argument of an LBGT activist to mislead his readers (a tactic he isn't new to, as you will see me address in the closing paragraph of this Huffington Post piece).

Overall, his piece demonstrates just how hateful he and his ilk can be when they try to approach an issue that both upsets them and weirds them out.

The policy he rails against is designed to treat all persons with dignity. His attempt to pervert the idea or make it into something it isn't shows just how weak his argument truly is.

P.S. Lomperis is likely to treat this type of article as a badge of honor, rather than criticism he should listen to, so I don't ever really expect a reply. The fantasy of living as some type of martyr is very appealing to the conservative, evangelical elite.


Yes, @MarkDTooley, Murder is Murder

  Mark Tooley – @MarkDTooley and President of The Institute on Religion & Democracy – is reactionary enough to be the president of a Washington D.C. based think tanks, but too reactionary to be the religious leader he believes himself to be. Por ejemplo… His latest article is his reaction to an article by Christianity Today.  The

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The ‘Unthinking Pacifist’ Calls-Out The ‘Indiscriminate Warmonger’ – @MarkDTooley

Mark Tooley – president of the pseudo-Methodist, Washington think tank, The Institute on Religion & Democracy – reviewed a book and posted it on the IRD’s blog.  I get their email notifications, and was prepared to hit the delete button on this one, when I saw that Mr. Tooley had engaged (once again) in what the

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Same @TheIRD, Different Day




The Institute on Religion & Democracy is at it again.  This time, they set their sights on Claremont School of Theology – a UMC seminary.

John Lomperis seized on a tidbit from the school and ranted (here) about how the school is effectively stealing from the Christian portion of the seminary budget to fund other non-Christian portions.  He uses intentionally divisive language – par for his course – in order to produce a scandal where none really exists.

Claremont responded with an article that the IRD – graciously, for them – posted on their blog, Juicy Ecumenism (still creeps me out).  Their claims are that the IRD unfairly characterized their recent restructuring and expansion plans – including plans to remove a cross.  They also claim that John Lomperis uses “provocative” language to make his points.

As a previous victim of the IRD’s reactionary carelessness, I was sympathetic to their plight.

The IRD has made a name for itself by sniping at anything that doesn’t fit perfectly into their idea of Christian faith.  They do use provocative language and innuendo in order to make their ideological foes look however they desire them to look – evil.  Since their inception – dating back to the Reagan Revolution and the Moral Majority – they have made it their job to suss out “marxism” within the ranks of United Methodist agencies.  Today, their main goal appears to be sussing out liberal influence, pointing at it in impotent rage or smug condescension, and asking for your money.

Given their particular brand of neo-conservative Christianity, I don’t even think we can call them Methodist, or Wesleyan, even.

Claremont ended their remarks with a nod to our national heritage and the need for actual ecumenism.  I hope the IRD listens:

Surely for the American experiment to succeed, Americans of differing religious viewpoints must learn to live and work together in harmony.  Religion can either continue to be the cause of conflict, or we can work together to make it the foundation for the needed harmony.  We believe that Jesus Christ calls Christians to the latter, being peacemakers and good neighbors.



Yes, God Is Against Drone Strikes – @MarkDTooley, @TheIRD

Mark Tooley, president of the neo-conservative think-tank The Institute on Religion & Democracy, continues his childish PR effort to make the term “Religious Left” synonymous with cowardice. If he cannot mention “the Religious Left” in the pejorative, he doesn't write the editorial.

Unfortunately, he just doesn't know what he's talking about.

Evidently, his years serving under President George W. Bush have impaired his ability to portray those with which he disagrees, accurately.

In his most recent article (it seems he just can get enough of his pontification in as many outlets as possible) – found here – Tooley claims the same crap he usually claims about “the Religious Left.” They want to see an America weakened to the point of impotence. They see no difference between the US and Nazi Germany. They only want to sit back and snipe at the those with which they disagree.

None of these accurately describe progressive Christianity, but that doesn't stop Tooley from continuing to say them.

In his response to religious liberal ethicisists and their suggestions that US drone policy is religiously problematic, Tooley sums up his argument pretty pathetically:

People of faith trust that God, in His own time, will fully redeem the world and defeat evil forever. But the utopian Religious Left sometimes wants to pretend their policies can preempt God. Fortunately, their counsel is mostly ignored, on drones, and virtually on every other issue.

In his attempt to further talk down to those Christians he believes deserve his derision, Tooley actually proves the opposite of his argument. Drone strikes are nearly the epitome of an ideology's policies preempting God. Tooley is using the Rovian tactic of turning your weakness into a weakness for your foe.

Drone strikes are, at the very least, morally problematic and religiously troubling. For someone – even a former CIA analyst like Tooley – to be so sold out to the idea of drone strikes as standard procedure, is unfortunate.

I pray the issue might cause him a little more moral uncertainty.

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