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


Dawn Johnsen , President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, has been a target of the religious right largely because she previously was the legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). They've called on Republicans to filibuster her nomination because, as Marjorie Dannenfelser , president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement yesterday, she's a "radical pro-abortion nominee" with a "disturbing view of pregnancy, motherhood, and even the Constitution." Dannenfelser threatened, "This key personnel decision will determine whether pro-life senators are serious about acting to protect women and the unborn." Now, via Greg Sargent , it looks like conserva-Dem Sen. Ben Nelson is poised to vote against Johnsen too. Johnsen is a hero to opponents of the Bush administration torture policies, because of her early and strong denunciations of them. Torture is not an issue for the religious right -- the culture of life, you know,...

The FundamentaList (No. 77)

This week in religion and politics: Church leaders speak out against torture, and why the "religious conscience" of gays and lesbians apparently doesn't matter.

1. Is the Anti-Gay-Marriage Movement Dead? The Times' Frank Rich, in his gloating obituary of the anti-gay-marriage movement, got a little ahead of himself on Sunday. Rich is right that, as Paul Waldman demonstrated last week, public opinion is trending toward legalization of marriage equality. Still, fundamentalist religious movements should never be counted out of American politics. Nor should their gentler cousins, whom the new president has embraced, be written off. Even John McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt and the senator's daughter Meghan, who just adores her gay hair stylist (and really , who doesn't?), are saying the fundamentalist obsession with gay marriage will be the GOP's downfall. But those who argue that the issue of gay marriage is done miss the same point: Democrats are nervous that their new evangelical friends are opposed to gay marriage. That is why, despite the public-opinion trends, the president and many other prominent Democrats are too timid to promote...


Joshua DuBois , director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFBNP), and Larry Summers , director of the National Economic Council, will be speaking at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's (RAC) annual conference, Consultation on Conscience, Sunday night, but their remarks will be closed to the press. Kate Bigam , the RAC's spokesperson, told me, "Both of our Sunday night speakers have asked that their presentations be off the record; Rev. Josh DuBois will be speaking at a private dinner for donors, and Larry Summers has asked that his presentation be closed." The secrecy and lack of transparency of the OFBNP has become nearly comical. It holds off-the-record meetings with religious groups and individuals whose identities it will not reveal to the press, and now DuBois finds it necessary to shut the media out from a speech to a religious organization. Update: Bigam called me this afternoon to advise that DuBois has decided to allow press...

Women and Children First

Two new books chronicle the damage done -- at home and abroad -- by the rise of religious fundamentalism in America.

Every once in a while, two simultaneously published books work in tandem to illuminate their subjects in ways that each book might not if read alone. Readers interested in the challenges of achieving sexual equality and in the dangers of religious fundamentalism -- subjects that arguably cannot be understood in isolation from each other -- will find such a convergence in new books written by two of our most important investigative journalists. Michelle Goldberg's latest, The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World , (excerpted in the May issue of The American Prospect ) is an essential account of how U.S. aid policy, beginning in the 1970s with efforts to slow spiraling population growth, came under the sway of the sexually puritanical demands of the American religious right, to ruinous effects. The resulting unavailability of safe abortion and family-planning services, combined with the devastation of HIV/AIDS and other disasters, has wreaked havoc, Goldberg...


The Rev. Frank Page , past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a member of Obama 's advisory council to the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, tells the American Family Association's news service that he is "deeply concerned" that Rick Warren tried to backpedal away from his support for Proposition 8 during his appearance on Larry King Live last week. Page told One News Now , "I can say without reservation that pastors need to be salt and light, and the light of God's Word shows us that marriage is to be one man [and] one woman for life. And we cannot, cannot back away from that mandate from our Lord. And every pastor ought to be publicly and privately saying, 'That is my agenda!'" But don't worry. The culture wars are over. --Sarah Posner