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

Children of God

As inflammatory tea party rhetoric gets toasted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Focus on the Family's advocacy arm tries to show a softer, gentler side of the religious right.

Alex Gerrard tries his shotgun shooting skills at an NRA shooting simulator during CPAC. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Though some conservative strategists angle to marry the religious right and the tea party movement -- or at least partially model the tea party movement after the Christian Coalition -- at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, announcing an engagement party would be premature. CPAC's outreach effort to millenials, the anachronistically named XPAC, featured a seminar by Focus on the Family Action's youth initiative Rising Voice , launched this week through the religious-right powerhouse's advocacy arm. While some factions of the religious right, including Focus on the Family Action itself, appear anxious to combine their platform, opposition to abortion and LGBT rights, with the tea party movement's core issue, antagonism toward "big government," Rising Voice's organizers seem to be going in a different direction. The crowd in the XPAC lounge was small compared to other breakout sessions and miniscule in light of the 10,000...

In Bad Faith

At yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama revealed that he still falls prey to the idea that religious beliefs are unimpeachable -- even when those beliefs affect the liberty of others.

(AP Photo)
In advance of yesterday's National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama was under pressure to use the opportunity to condemn the anti-homosexuality bill pending in the Ugandan Parliament. The legislation, which would criminalize homosexuality and require the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain "offenses," has been described by human-rights activists as tantamount to instigating a genocide against sexual minorities, who are already persecuted in the African nation. Obama, speaking just before the first anniversary of the launch of his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, once again fell into the religion-in-public-life trap: Faith is intended for good, and we must present it as such -- regardless of its exploitation for ends that are less than pure, and regardless of one's stated commitment to secular government. The National Prayer Breakfast, hosted by members of Congress, is organized by the Fellowship Foundation, also known as "The Family," a secretive...

Faith and the Stupak Amendment.

The Catholic bishops have gotten a lot of attention for the role they played in pushing the Stupak amendment -- and the House health-care bill -- over the finish line. While there's no doubt the bishops applied the midnight pressure, their role is just one piece of how Democrats yearn for the godly imprimatur. To be sure, the final outcome on the House side is the result of whip counts simply not adding up to the number needed to pass the bill. But Democrats ending up in the position of having to obtain a particular religious stamp of approval was also the result of seeking out the "faith vote" in the last several election cycles, and confining the definition of " people of faith " to people who oppose abortion. The Democrats "got religion," but at what cost? The Democrats failed to tap into pro-choice religious groups as a voice to argue for inclusion of abortion coverage in a health-care bill. Instead, these groups, along with leading pro-choice groups, acquiesced to the Capps...

Islamophobia, From Screen to Capitol Hill.

Last week saw the preposterous spectacle of members of Congress calling for an investigation of the allegedly seditious activities of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Republicans Sue Myrick , John Shadegg , Paul Broun , and Trent Franks , who accused CAIR of planting interns to work as spies on Capitol Hill, based their charges on the book Muslim Mafia . The book was published by WND Books, the publishing arm of World Net Daily , which solidified its reputation for McCarthy-esque tinfoil hat "journalism" long before Glenn Beck's tears were even a twinkle in Roger Ailes' eye. Now the Clarion Fund, producer of the film The Third Jihad -- which also peddles the alleged Holy Land and Muslim Brotherhood connections -- is calling for an investigation, too. The Third Jihad charges that Muslim groups like CAIR intend to supplant the Constitution with sharia law, and have links to jihadists. CAIR and numerous other Muslim organizations were identified as unindicted co-...

If Only War Were that Simple.

The Washington Post today profiles Lt. Carey Cash , the Navy chaplain serving at Camp David, where President Obama attends services. Cash -- a great nephew of music icon Johnny Cash -- is a conservative Southern Baptist who won't, apparently, give Obama the trouble that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright did. If Obama is seeking some spiritual guidance as he contemplates troop escalations in Afghanistan, though, I hope to God his admiration for Cash does not lend credence to what Cash has to say about God and war. According to remarks he made to the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces in 2003 (h/t to David Brody for the link ), Cash believes that faith actually saved Marines from death on the battlefield. He described a brutal battle in Baghdad, on April 10, 2003, after which, "by every assessment, during that nine-hour ordeal, our battalion should have sustained untold casualties and countless dead." Instead, Cash maintained, there was a "miracle": It cannot be denied. Someone...

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