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

The FundamentaList (No. 72)

This week in religion and politics: The honeymoon may be over for Obama and evangelical "centrists."

1. Is the Obama-Evangelical Alliance Cracking Up? This week heralded what could prove to be a new chapter in the culture wars: the exposure of the schism between the "centrist," Obama-supporting religious figures and the mainstream progressivism actually represented by Obama. Could the crack-up finally show the futility of Democratic outreach designed to appease conservative theologians? The Rev. Tony Campolo, who advocated for "abortion reduction" language to be included in the 2008 Democratic Party platform, lambasted the administration for going soft on promises to maintain a Bush-era rule that permitted faith-based programs receiving federal funds to discriminate in hiring. On the campaign trail, Obama had promised to reverse the rule, incensing religious conservatives and centrists. Campolo says Obama later assuaged religious leaders by vowing to keep the rule in place. "There were enough private assurances given," a knowledgeable source tells me, from "all levels of the campaign...


As Senate Democrats began hearings yesterday on the Employee Free Choice Act, it seems like they needed the blessing of a religious figure to proceed. Lacking in imagination, they chose Sojourners president Jim Wallis . Wallis spoke in favor of EFCA, which is obviously a good thing. The more support for the bill, the better. But Democrats lamely think all they need is a religious stamp of approval to convince the faithful that EFCA wouldn't portend the one-world order the Armageddon watchers believe Obama and his "socialist" agenda will bring. But in only trotting out Wallis, they're missing the boat, and an opportunity. Wallis is everywhere these days. He's a longtime advocate for ending poverty, and his fans likely find his increased visibility heartening for the cause. Obama appointed him to serve on the Advisory Council to his Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which will keep him in regular contact with the White House. He spoke at World Economic Forum in Davos...

The FundamentaList (No. 71)

This week in religion and politics: Anti-abortion activists dislike Kathleen Sebelius, stem-cell research gets funding, and the ranks of atheists and evangelicals both swell.

1. "Real" Catholics, "Fake" Ones, and Kansas Governors. The outcry from the anti-choice religious right over President Barack Obama's nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas to serve as health and human services secretary reached a fever pitch last week: The "radical extremist" who's not a "real" Catholic was given a stamp of approval by a key congressional religious-right ally, fellow Kansan Sam Brownback. The religious right is still figuring out how to play its hand in Democratically controlled Washington, particularly in the nearly filibuster-proof Senate. Just a few years ago, the crew complained so mightily about the "obstructionist" Democrats who allegedly stood in the way of right-thinking Bush judicial nominees. With the situation reversed, the religious right had hoped that minority Republicans -- Brownback in particular -- would block Sebelius, solely because of her record on abortion rights. Never mind that the HHS secretary will have the more pressing agenda of...


In a post at HuffPo , Tony Campolo , the minister and "Red Letter Christian" who served on the platform committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, claims that on the eve of the election, to quell evangelical anxiety, Obama promised that he would not reverse the Bush-era rule permitting recipients of federal faith-based funds to discriminate in hiring. Obama had promised he'd reverse the rule on the campaign trail, so in the tete-a-tetes that Campolo claims took place, Obama would have been contradicting that promise. When he did create the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships last month, he took a somewhat middle ground, ordering that instances of possible discrimination would be referred for legal review on a case-by-case basis. But now Campolo says that an Obama "counselor" has signaled that the rule might well be reversed, much to the consternation of the evangelicals Obama worked so hard to assuage: During the days leading up to the November election,...

The FundamentaList (No. 70)

The religious right still runs the Republican Party, Obama is the "socialist Antichrist," and Muslims struggle to find their place within the conservative movement.

1. Response to Dobson's Retirement: Meh? James Dobson's retirement as chairman of the board of Focus on the Family (FOF) has been in the works for six years, a planned phase-out of administrative duties while he continues his radio program and writing. So why was the official announcement met with headlines like "Can Focus Survive Without Dobson As Leader?" Can FOF survive on its 2007 revenues in excess of $128 million? Yes, it downsized recently, laying off about 200 workers, but FOF still maintains a staff of 950. Don't cue the violins yet. Even if Dobson's announcement was not timed to coincide with last week's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the convergence was fraught with symbolism. The religious right has been the backbone of the Republican Party, influencing policy through a quid pro quo with its formidable get-out-the-vote prowess. Yet to move the GOP to ideological purity, Dobson overplayed his hand by repeatedly making empty, foot-stomping threats to...