Sarah Posner

Sarah Posner is an investigative journalist, author, and an expert on the intersection of religion and politics. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Salon, The Washington Post, and Religion Dispatches. Read more at her website,


Recent Articles

The FundamentaList (No. 80)

This week in religion and politics: Religious leaders react to evangelicals' permissive attitudes toward torture, and the Notre Dame commencement controversy stokes the abortion-reduction debate.

U.S. Army soldiers bow their heads in prayer at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
1. Evangelicalism and Torture: Is Repentance the Answer? Last month's Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll showed that the more religiously observant one is, the more likely one is to justify torture. In response to the finding, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) hosted a conference call for reporters, where representatives offered a mix of dismay and repentance, plus a pledge to better educate their flocks. In the poll, religious observance and support for torture was most highly correlated among white evangelicals. That fact was particularly embarrassing for Evangelicals for Human Rights (EHR), NRCAT's closest partner. In reaction, EHR president David Gushee penned an anguished plea asking Jesus why 62 percent of his evangelical brethren believe torture is sometimes or always justified. "What is this thing called 'Christianity' in this country, Lord Jesus?" wrote Gushee in the Associated Baptist Press. "Does it have anything to do with you?" As pained as...


A quick update to the piece of this week's FundamentaList on the Al Jazeera story which showed a top military chaplain, Lt. Colonel Gary Hensley , urging military personnel at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan to "hunt people for Jesus." The Pentagon is denying that proselytizing or anything improper took place. It further claims that the Bibles written in Dari and Pashto for distribution to Afghans were not distributed but rather were destroyed. But Al Jazeera has released unedited video showing Captain Emmit Furner telling personnel how to evade military rules prohibiting proselytizing: "Share the word of God, but be smart about it." For more, don't miss Mikey Weinstein's and Jeff Sharlet's appearance on Democracy Now today. Sharlet calls the video "the tip of the iceberg" but adds that President Obama is taking a "hands off" approach to the problem. The newly appointed head of the Air Force Academy (ground zero for Weinstein's battle against evangelism in the military), Gen...


At his God and Country blog, Dan Gilgoff thinks he smells a whiff of Christian Zionism in Vice President Joe Biden's AIPAC speech. I don't think so. Gilgoff notes how the vast majority of American Jews are Democrats and wonders if Biden were trying to tap into Republican ties with evangelicals. "It sounded as if the vice president were trying to break the GOP lock on the evangelical-Israel alliance, sometimes speaking in 'Christianese'" with comments like "my commitment [to Israel] began at my father's dinner table. My father was what you'd refer to as a righteous Christian." Gilgoff reads far too much into Biden's comments. They're standard fare for a Christian politician, even a Democrat, speaking on American-Israeli relations. There's a big difference between that and an effort to appeal to evangelical Christian Zionists, who would reject, out of hand, Biden's call for a two-state solution, "Christianese" notwithstanding. If Biden had wanted to court them, he would have cited...


As the White House and congressional Democrats begin the process of eliminating federal funding for scientifically debunked abstinence-only sex-education programs, it turns out that newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter seems to like them very much. According to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense , Specter was responsible for nearly half a million dollars in earmarks for abstinence-only education programs in his home state of Pennsylvania in the 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill. Specter's name is on 20 earmarks through the Department of Health and Human Services -- each worth $24,000 -- to organizations ranging from public school districts to pregnancy "crisis" centers to faith-based organizations. This is not new for Specter. Many of the earmarks appear to be continuations of funding he secured in 2007, when he was responsible for $8 million in abstinence earmarks. A Politico article at the time posited that Specter, "who supports abortion rights, is turning the state into the...

The FundamentaList (No. 79)

This week in religion and politics: More evidence emerges of aggressive proselytizing in the military, and the religious right wants to cause trouble for Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

1. "Christian Nation" Myth Is Gone. What Fills the Void? President Barack Obama has made it perfectly clear: We're not a Christian nation. We're a nation made up of religious and not religious people with a secular government that respects all religions. But for a devotee of secular government, Obama appears to be giving a lot of weight to religious voices. Of course we all know Obama rejects the Christian-right mythology that God ordained America as a Christian nation and that Christians are charged with taking dominion over its government, its culture, and the world. Good riddance. But in creating his own mythology -- that his White House is open to all faiths, all religions, and wants to hear from that ill-defined "people of faith" demographic -- Obama has created a new problem. When is it supposedly important for him to listen to religious voices while crafting policy, and when is it not? And how does he determine which religious voices deserve credence over others? Most cynically...