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

PENTAGON DENIES EVANGELISM AT BAGRAM.

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...

BIDEN'S CHRISTIAN REFERENCES AT AIPAC NOT AIMED AT CHRISTIAN ZIONISTS.

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...

NEW DEMOCRAT SPECTER IS AN ABSTINENCE-ONLY EARMARKER.

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...

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THE "RELIGIOUS LEFT."

Over at Politico , Ben Smith writes , "A person who follows religion and politics more closely than I tells me the decision of two major conservative Christian leaders, Joel Hunter and David Gushee , to sign on in support of legislation outlawing 'hate crimes' against gays and lesbians, is a pretty big deal." He's referring to Faith in Public Life's Wednesday press release, listing expressions of support for the hate crimes legislation that passed the House that day. (When a bill is a sure winner, why not go with it, eh?) First, I want to tackle Smith's assertion that the list of endorsers "also includes more usual Religious Left suspects like Rev. Jim Wallis ." As I pointed out in this week's FundamentaList , Wallis has for years rejected the label of "religious left." He just recently started embracing it. Why? His spokesperson said the media apply it to him anyway, so why not? But could it be that as the country becomes more progressive, it's less icky to call oneself a lefty? Or...

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