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

Christian Legal Group Represents Missouri in Abortion Case

Gov. Matt Blunt's office contracted with a Christian organization to defend the state in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood over newly enacted regulations targeting abortion clinics.

In a tone befitting a pubescent spat, the director of Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services last week informed the state Attorney General Jay Nixon that she would not be using his services in a lawsuit filed against the state by Planned Parenthood seeking to have a restrictive abortion law declared unconstitutional. It was a highly unusual move, since the attorney general is the state's lawyer, and it is his job to defend the constitutionality of state statutes when they are challenged in court. "I did not believe I could trust you to defend me and my department vigorously," wrote Jane Drummond, general counsel to Republican Gov. Matt Blunt (son of the House Republican Whip Roy Blunt). "You," Drummond accused the state's chief law enforcement officer, Nixon, who happens to be the Democrat challenging Blunt in Missouri's gubernatorial race next year, "are radically pro-abortion." In a final talk-to-the-hand flourish, Drummond demanded, "Please have your counsel contact my...

The Christian Right's New Man

No one is happier with the results of the Iowa Straw Poll than charismatic evangelical Christians, who recently declared former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee "one of our own."

Just a few weeks before the Iowa straw poll, a prominent evangelical publication identified the Republican presidential candidate whom it thought most resembled Ronald Reagan and deserved the support of evangelical voters. That candidate was not the actor turned politician Fred Thompson, but rather the Baptist minister turned governor, and now presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. The endorsement came from New Man , one of eight magazines published by Strang Communications, whose founder and president, Stephen Strang, is a highly influential voice among charismatics -- evangelicals who attend non-denominational churches such as those of John Hagee or Rod Parsley , as well as denominational Pentecostals. New Man , which started out as the magazine of the Bible-macho Promise Keepers movement, today reaches 100,000 subscribers with its advice on questions such as whether masturbation is an acceptable way to preserve one's virginity before marriage ( no ) or whether the Bible dictates...

Court's Ruling Won't Limit Christian Hate Speech

The Christian Right is concerned that yesterday's Supreme Court decision on student speech will restrict high-schoolers' ability to spread anti-gay messages. But they've got nothing to worry about.

In yesterday's decision in Morse v. Frederick , better known as the " Bong Hits 4 Jesus " case, the Supreme Court's conservative majority appears to have turned on its Christian Right supporters. The Court narrowly held that a public school principal could constitutionally confiscate a nonsensical sign which read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" from a student because, in the Court's absurd view, it promoted illegal drug use. Immediately, the Christian Right was distressed. Lawyers who had sided with the student (and the Christian Right's arch-enemy, the American Civil Liberties Union) are now worried that the precedent will be used to restrict their own clients' speech, also supposedly in Jesus' name, but not nearly as frivolous. Across the country, the conservative legal group the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) goes to court to vindicate the free speech rights of Christian students to tell their LGBT peers they're going to hell, usually after their speech has run afoul of school policies designed...

The Future of Anti-Gay Activism

The Christian Right is recruiting black pastors to make the case that equating gay rights with civil rights is an affront to African Americans.

At a conference of several thousand conservative Pentecostals at Virginia Beach's Rock Church this spring, Bishop Harry Jackson was recruiting soldiers for the next wave of anti-gay activism. "God's getting ready to shake us up," roared the Harvard MBA-turned preacher, rousing the audience to divinely ordained political action. With the crowd cheering, applauding, and speaking in tongues, Jackson shouted, "God's looking for a SWAT team ... he's looking for a team of Holy Ghost terrorists !" Jackson wasn't having any ordinary come-to-Jesus moment, exhorting his followers, as most neo-Pentecostal preachers do nearly every Sunday, to wage battle with the devil. He was organizing a political war of words, fought with letters, e-mails, and telephone calls. His target was the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which would add sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation to the classes protected by the federal hate crimes statute,...

What Falwell Never Learned

Falwell never grasped how to brand faith for pop cultural consumption.

Jerry Falwell was not a diminutive man in any sense of the word, but he died yesterday diminished. Falwell's star rose in the 1980s -- he was an anachronism who elbowed his way onto the national stage alongside Gordon Gecko and MTV, showing the rest of America that religious fundamentalism still thrived in a decade more associated with the seven deadly sins than the four Gospels. Falwell's legacy -- the fact that fundamentalist preachers control enough votes for the Republican Party to seem congenitally addicted to them -- is clear enough. But those who seek to walk in Falwell's political footsteps learned something from the decade of greed that Falwell never did: Christianity, like anything else, needs to be packaged, marketed, and consumed. In addition to his crusade as leader of the ludicrously fashioned Moral Majority, Falwell was also known as a televangelist, a term that in the '80s became associated with the scandals of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. (The former...

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