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

GALSTON WRONG ON ABORTION OPINION AND SCOTUS NOMINEES.

William Galton's post yesterday at TNR , arguing that the latest Gallup and Pew figures on abortion should counsel the president to "think twice before nominating someone with a long record of support for positions far outside the current cultural mainstream" for the Supreme Court is just plain wrong. Wrong about the polls, wrong about what the polling means, wrong about what Democrats' strategy should be on abortion. First, as I laid out in today's FundamentaList , and as several people far better versed in parsing polls than I am have shown, the recent Pew and Gallup polls that Galston latched onto are not reliable indicators of public opinion. The Pew poll showed an inexplicable eight-point drop in support for legal abortion, a finding that is questionable on two grounds: first, it conflicts with other long-term, comprehensive surveys of public opinion on whether abortion should be legal; second, experts say an eight-point drop in public opinion on an issue that has otherwise held...

The FundamentaList (No. 81)

This week in religion and politics: Obama's Notre Dame speech shines attention on his relationship with religious constituencies, and anti-Muslim propaganda is making the rounds once again.

1. Obama's Notre Dame Speech A Success, But What Lies Ahead? Observers and pundits praised President Barack Obama for his speech at the University of Notre Dame's commencement Sunday, because of his rejection of fundamentalism and deft handling of the militant religious right. But viewed in the context of Obama's entire faith-based outreach project, the events at Notre Dame highlighted how he has embraced traditionalist, conservative religion -- to the detriment of sexual and reproductive justice. In his speech, Obama credited religion with playing an important role in American civic life, which it undoubtedly does. The speech, like every one he has given on religion, was designed to defuse highly charged, faith-based debates about public policy. Obama thinks that listening to all religious voices is one way to "tamp down some of the anger" over issues like abortion. That balanced approach looks eminently reasonable, particularly when Randall Terry acolytes are shouting "abortion is...

"COMMON GROUND" WON'T END CULTURE WARS: ESSENTIAL READING.

At Religion Dispatches , the indefatigable chronicler of conservative movements Chip Berlet has written the essential assessment of what is wrong with the "common ground" with religious conservatives that some Democratic activists claim will end the culture wars. If you've been following this rumble here and in The FundamentaList , you know the basic outlines: Some Democratic consultants and progressive think tanks decided that the old battles over abortion and gay rights were stale and that everyone was tired of arguing. Why not agree on some "common ground" with religious conservatives and make all that go away? I've obviously been skeptical of that approach -- both as a matter of political expediency and of justice. And Berlet is, too. With his new piece, Berlet has taken the discussion to new heights of understanding, by describing the players in detail but without rancor, and by making a moral and fact-based argument why the common ground approach won't help win elections and...

OBAMA'S NOTRE DAME SPEECH.

President Barack Obama was his characteristically adroit self at the Notre Dame commencement yesterday. He gracefully handled the smattering of "abortion is murder!" hecklers who were shouted down by graduates as Obama was delivering his speech. But even as Obama disarmed the nuttiest of culture warriors, a new battle is engaged beneath the surface. The Notre Dame protesters are an embarrassment to most American Catholics, and even to many conservatives. Chief ringleader Randall Terry , founder of the militant Operation Rescue, is nothing but a bully and a hypocrite who just recently converted to Catholicism (after divorcing his first wife). He's a criminal who has served prison time for harassing patients and staff at abortion clinics and engaging in stunts like arranging to have a fetus in a jar delivered to Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. It was clear in South Bend yesterday that the members of the Notre Dame Class of 2009 -- regardless of their own views on...

THE MORALITY OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND CHOICE.

Following up on Dana 's and Scott 's posts debunking the increasingly circulated myth that American public opinion is trending away from favoring legal abortion, my inbox is full of press releases and other assorted trumpeting of said myth. Sample: "New Gallup Poll: Obama on Collision Course with Public Opinion on Abortion Policy." (That's from the Susan B. Anthony List -- the anti-abortion movement's answer to Emily's List -- which supported and continues to support the political rise of Sarah Palin .) In his efforts to to find "common ground" on reducing the need for abortion, Obama has failed to offer the values-laden rhetorical support for his pro-choice position, opting instead, at least for the moment, to conduct listening sessions on the issue through the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFBNP). The religious "common ground" voices are well-positioned in the OFBNP and have grumbled, for example, about Obama's...

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