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

President of Leading Seminary Speaks Out in Defense of Kevin Jennings.

The religious right's four-month smear campaign against Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools director Kevin Jennings ramped up this week, with heightened calls for his resignation. Among other bogus claims, the Family Research Council, which has led the charge, insists that Jennings is "viciously hostile to religion" because of his past remarks condemning the religious right and challenging his conservative religious upbringing. Last night, Serene Jones , president of Union Theological Seminary, on whose board Jennings serves, spoke to me about his commitment to education and to his faith. She addressed the two main claims being made by the religious right: that Jennings is anti-religion and that he has "promoted homosexuality" to children through the organization he founded in 1995, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). One of the country's preeminent seminaries, Union carefully vetted Jennings before its 40 members voted unanimously to...

Is Public Support for Abortion Access Slipping, Or Is Apathy Rising?

A new poll released today by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press bears the headline: "Support for Abortion Slips." No doubt conservatives, and more specifically the religious right, will jump on this survey and deploy it to support their position on everything from health care reform to "personhood" ballot initiatives. But it's hardly cause for for supporters of reproductive health and of science-based public policy to roll over. In fact, there's reason in the survey to redouble efforts to garner support for reproductive rights. The results, part of Pew's 2009 Annual Religion and Public Life Survey, do show a drop in support for legal abortion in 2009. Whether it's significant in the long term, consistent with other polling, or more than an outlier remains to be seen. I'll leave that analysis to the number crunchers, and will report on that, too, but for now it's important to focus on the political implications. In short,...

The Whining Over Pro-Life Democrats and Health Care Reform.

I don't know who appointed Steven Waldman the Democratic Party's chief adviser on abortion issues, but he is at it again at BeliefNet , expressing shock and dismay that the party leadership isn't sufficiently coddling its (minority) pro-life caucus. At the Democratic National Convention last year, on a panel on faith and the party, Waldman declared that Democrats should “have a new position on abortion” in order to win over religious voters. This week, he castigates the "ineptitude" of the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not having met with the 40 pro-life Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak , who apparently think that the health care amendment offered by Rep. Lois Capps is inadequate to insure that not one single penny of taxpayer dollars might pay for an insurance plan that might pay for a woman's abortion (even if the taxpayer dollars don't pay for the abortion itself). Waldman is relying on David Kirkpatrick's reporting in the Times this week, in which Stupak claimed...

Yes, Valerie Jarrett Is Beck's Next Target.

Two weeks ago, I wondered whether, based on a WorldNetDaily smear job linking her communists and other nefarious people, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett would be Glenn Beck's next target. Today, referring to Yosi Sargent's resignation from the National Endowment for the Arts, Beck is saying on his radio program that Sargent is small fry. "The one you need to start asking questions on is Valerie Jarrett. . . . it's the ones at the top of the ladder that you have to pay attention to." More evidence of Beck's source: WorldNetDaily , co-host of this weekend's How to Take Back America Conference . --Sarah Posner

The Skousen Admiration Club.

Dave Weigel points out the hypocrisy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's professed admiration for W. Cleon Skousen , the Glenn Beck ideological godfather and anti-Communist oddball, at this weekend's Values Voters Summit. While many in the Christian right sidelined Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism, now Mormons like Skousen and Beck are all the rage. But it's not that surprising -- because it's not that new. The conservative movement has long admired Skousen, and he has a long list of Republican and movement insider admirers. Mark Skousen , a frequent contributor to Human Events , is Skousen's nephew. When Beck started promoting his uncle's book, The 5,000 Year Leap, on his television program, Skousen wrote a paean to his uncle and Beck in Human Events , "Glenn Beck Re-Energizes the Conservative Movement." Skousen did not overestimate his uncle's influence, even though Beck's discovery of him was recent. (Skousen called that "hope we can believe in.") When the elder Skousen died in 2006,...