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

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...


I just escaped from a CPAC panel featuring activists who have achieved "conservative victories" at the grassroots. Most of them were college students who beat back all those terrible autocratic liberal policies at their universities that "silence" conservatives. "Liberals are successful at making people who are marginalized hurt," sniffed one presenter, referring to conservatives as the marginalized. Their two-minute speeches were apparently supposed to inspire activists in the audience to sue their university, form clubs on campus to combat "suicidally liberal" policies, form an anti-feminist book club, or fight back against an unspecified "Orwellian political re-education program" like at the University of Delaware. If conservatives whined about being marginalized when they were in power, imagine how how ramped-up the bitterness is going to be now. The star of the show was Jonathan Krohn , the 13-year-old author of a book, Define Conservatism . His charm, if you can call it that,...


In his CPAC speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that conservatives are more "interesting" and "fun" than liberals. Here's his proof: "who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich when you can be with Rush Limbaugh ?" --Sarah Posner