Sarah Posner

Sarah Posner's coverage of religion and politics has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Week, and many others.

 

Recent Articles

"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...

HARD RIGHT CATHOLIC HOMOPHOBIA AND RE-ELECTION SCARE TACTICS.

The Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody says Obama's alleged anti-Catholicism will be a serious 2012 campaign issue. Brody posts a letter from hard-right Catholic leaders to President Obama , demanding that he remove the Human Rights Campaign's Harry Knox from his faith-based advisory council. Knox is the director of the Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the only LGBT rights activist on the council. The letter makes the preposterous claim that Knox is an anti-Catholic "bigot" because he has been critical of the Pope's opposition to homosexuality and condom use to prevent the spread of HIV, and of Catholic groups who supported California's Proposition 8. The signers of the letter, who include the Catholic League's own bigot , Bill Donohue , are , in Pastor Dan's words, pure bullies. This has nothing to do with anti-Catholicism, and everything to do with authoritarianism, homophobia, and creating phony "controversies" to discredit Obama and...

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...

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