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 Lord Is My Insurer

Conservative Christians have found a way around health-care reform's individual mandate.

James Lansberry, vice-president of Samaritan Ministries, in a still from an informational video. (Samaritan Ministries)
"Who is this Barack Obama who mocks the armies of the living God?" demanded James Lansberry, Christian crusader against government-regulated health care, last summer in the heat of the battle over reform. Since the health-care reform bill passed last month, Lansberry has become a hot commodity on the conservative talk-radio circuit where he sings the praises of health-care-sharing ministries (HCSMs), Christian nonprofit organizations through which members agree to cover each others? health-care costs. As president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, Lansberry, and his team of lobbyists, had persuaded Senate lawmakers to exempt alliance members from the individual mandate. That exemption, Lansberry said, made those ministries "an island of freedom amidst this terrible piece of reform legislation" and "the last pro-life option for Christians of faith." The exemption raises an array of concerns, including constitutional questions about the limits of such religious...

Cracks In The Catholic Armor.

It might look like Rep. Bart Stupak , the crucial holdout for more draconian restrictions on abortion in the health-care bill, was swayed, finally, by the executive order reiterating that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act upholds the ban on federal funding of abortion. For months Stupak, carrying the water of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had insisted that the Senate bill failed to ensure that federal funds wouldn't somehow help pay for an abortion. He was cheered on not only by the USCCB but by the hardcore anti-abortion right, which largely didn't want health-care reform anyway. But Stupak had been under pressure to find a way out of his relentless opposition to the Senate bill. Over the past few weeks, Catholics and Catholic groups who previously had not contested the bishops' stance began to speak out. More than two weeks ago, Catholics United, a group founded after the 2004 election "to promote the U.S. Catholic Bishops' 2003 document 'Faithful Citizenship...

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...