Sarah Posner

Sarah Posner is a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches and an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Nation and many other publications.

 

Recent Articles

Anti-union SCOTUS Challenge Threatens Church-State Separation

The Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case not only puts public-sector unions in danger, it risks opening a new chapter in the war over religion in public schools. 

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock) A version of this article was originally published in the December 2015 issue of Clarion , the newspaper of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY. O n Monday, the Supreme Court will take up Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case with profound implications for the future of public-sector labor unions, and the labor movement as a whole . At issue is the underpinning of public-sector unionism—that public employees who opt out of union membership can still be obligated to pay for their individual share of the services and collective bargaining they receive from the union. The Court could even decide to make union membership an opt-in rather than an opt-out proposition, allowing the public employees unions are required to represent to glean the benefits of representation without paying dues. While the plaintiffs in Friedrichs base their claims on a free speech argument that many find dubious, tucked away in the case lies another, real First Amendment...

Blurred Lines at the Border

AP Images/Matt Rourke
AP Images/Matt Rourke L ast year, during the height of the “religious freedom” fracas over the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception-coverage requirement, three Catholic laywomen made the church’s case to an audience at the Catholic Information Center (CIC) in downtown Washington, D.C. Housed in an unassuming bookstore on K Street and operated by the controversial Opus Dei order , the CIC claims to cater to the spiritual needs of Washington’s political elites with daily mass as well as lectures and panels featuring prominent conservative pundits and activists. The “Women for Freedom” panel aimed to teach lay Catholics to “convince rather than antagonize” the public about the church’s stances on divisive issues, and, in the words of one panelist, “share and show love.” “Our goal,” said Kim Daniels, then the head of the organization Catholic Voices and now the spokesperson for the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “is to make the church’s case in...

More Than a Hobby

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez I n February of 2012, as the Obama administration sought to placate the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) objections to contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a new wrinkle in the debate took observers by surprise. Anthony Picarello, the USCCB’s general counsel, protested that exemptions and accommodations for churches and religious charities didn’t go far enough. “If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell,” Picarello said, “I’d be covered by the mandate.” This was the first time one of the religious objectors to the proposed regulation had raised the prospect of an exemption for for-profit, corporate entities. “We thought it was laughable at the time,” says Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has filed amicus briefs in support of the government’s position in lawsuits later brought by for-profit companies. “I’m not laughing anymore.” Last month, in the first appellate...

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