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

Submitting to the Christian Right

The press ignores the influence of religious conservatives on Republican lawmakers bent on curbing the rights of American women.

Rep. Dan Webster of Florida (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
Last fall, when then-Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida aired a campaign ad calling his Republican opponent Daniel Webster "Taliban Dan," a collective, dismissive groan rumbled from the political commentariat. "Has Alan Grayson gone too far?" pondered Politico . But the question, despite the ad's shortcomings, should have been: Is Dan Webster, an evangelical Christian and staunch social conservative, too radical for the United States Congress? Whatever the wisdom of using the term "Taliban Dan," Grayson was onto something that should have, if properly examined, provided clues to the Republican-controlled Congress' fixation with cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood. That such a question doesn't get asked is a function of how Congress has already gone too far -- and not in Grayson's direction. The Webster campaign should have given ample evidence that the Tea Party was full of religious zealots bent on undermining the rights of women. By failing to fully interrogate so-called...

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...