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

In 'Long, Slow, Agonizing Process,' a Former Texas Operative Leaves the Religious Right

Elaine White was once in the inner circle of political power in the second-largest state in the nation. Then a crisis of faith changed all that.

Texas State Capitol: eramos1969
AUGUST 24, 2014 If you met interior designer and business consultant Joyce Elaine White, you’d likely never guess that she was once the lobbyist for the group that formed the leading edge of the religious right’s takeover of the Republican Party in Texas—that she was once in the inner circle of political power in the second-largest state in the nation. Then a crisis of faith changed all that. “Rethinking everything has been a long, slow, and agonizing process,” White told me in a 2010 e-mail. And it’s no wonder, when you consider that her faith journey in evangelical Christianity began in earnest before she entered kindergarten. On New Year’s Day 1958, in Odessa, Texas, a place equally enamored with Jesus and high school football, White’s mother rushed her to see Hattie Love Rankin, a missionary doctor. What White, then almost four years old and suffering from what Rankin diagnosed as bronchial pneumonia, remembers most about that day...

Blurred Lines at the Border

AP Images/Matt Rourke
AP Images/Matt Rourke Last year, during the height of the “religious freedom” fracas over the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception-coverage requirement, three Catholic laywomen made the church’s case to an audience at the Catholic Information Center (CIC) in downtown Washington, D.C. Housed in an unassuming bookstore on K Street and operated by the controversial Opus Dei order , the CIC claims to cater to the spiritual needs of Washington’s political elites with daily mass as well as lectures and panels featuring prominent conservative pundits and activists. The “Women for Freedom” panel aimed to teach lay Catholics to “convince rather than antagonize” the public about the church’s stances on divisive issues, and, in the words of one panelist, “share and show love.” “Our goal,” said Kim Daniels, then the head of the organization Catholic Voices and now the spokesperson for the president of the...

More Than a Hobby

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
In February of 2012, as the Obama administration sought to placate the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) objections to contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a new wrinkle in the debate took observers by surprise. Anthony Picarello, the USCCB’s general counsel, protested that exemptions and accommodations for churches and religious charities didn’t go far enough. “If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell,” Picarello said, “I’d be covered by the mandate.” This was the first time one of the religious objectors to the proposed regulation had raised the prospect of an exemption for for-profit, corporate entities. “We thought it was laughable at the time,” says Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has filed amicus briefs in support of the government’s position in lawsuits later brought by for-profit companies. “I’m not...

Rand Paul Plays God Politics

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
As Senator Rand Paul delivered his keynote speech on immigration reform at yesterday's gathering of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, anxieties about the GOP’s identity crisis rippled through the room. The likely 2016 presidential hopeful spoke briefly in Spanish before discussing his Christian faith and opposition to abortion. He assured his audience he got them: “Man’s humanity to man is how we will be judged,” he said. The religious undertone of Paul’s remarks stood in stark contrast to the rest of the event, which focused on the economic and border-security provisions of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill, currently being debated on the floor of the Senate. This highlights the competing interests pro-reform Republicans are scrambling to satisfy. On the one hand, pro-reform religious conservatives talk about family, human dignity and the biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger,” in this case by offering the 11...

Onward Christian Voters

Religious-right Republicans will need a new Huckabee, but the party establishment probably won't like whoever it is.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Before former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee decided not to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012, he launched a site for followers to pray for him. Most candidates check the polls and see where their fundraising is. Huckabee (he would have us believe, at least) asked God. But he's not an elitist about his connection to the Almighty. You have one, too, he says: "I humbly ask that you would join me in prayer as I seek to discern His will for my life." Better than voting, you can help this guy discern God's will! This, and his announcement on his Fox News program Saturday night that his "heart says no" to another presidential run, was a perfect example of Huckabee's unique way of putting a spiritual spin on what is undoubtedly a calculated, political, and even a financial decision. While the GOP base has long favored God-talk from its candidates, Huckabee would have been the candidate most beloved by the religious-right foot soldiers even as many in the Republican...