Sarah Posner invites commentators from across the ideological spectrum to discuss breaking news and three-alarm issues at the intersection of politics and religion.
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Sigal about last week’s violence at the Western Wall by ultra-Orthodox men opposed to the activities of the group Women of the Wall. They discuss the background of this controversy, including the arrest of the group’s leader a month ago. Sigal argues that last week was a watershed moment for Israeli feminism. Are mainstream Israelis following this story closely? Sarah observes that women from fundamentalist backgrounds often find secularism to be a major challenge to their identity. Will American Jews be able to play a role in resolving this issue?
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Wajahat about Islamophobia in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. What does it mean when press accounts describe Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an increasingly “devout” Muslim? Wajahat explains the vast gulf between the perception and the reality of American Muslims. Why are some terrorists described as “lone wolves” but, without organizational links to an international terror organization, the Tsarnaev brothers are described as “self-radicalized” terrorists? Wajahat explains the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck dynamic to Americans’ reaction to terrorism. Plus: Why aren’t we talking about the Tsarnaevs and gun control? UPDATE: Reaction to the AP’s reporting on Tamerlan’s radicalization and the mysterious “Misha.”
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks to Kathryn Joyce, author of a new book on evangelical adoption, The Child Catchers. Kathryn describes how adoption has developed as an expansion of anti-abortion politics. Who is responsible for making adoption go viral among evangelicals in the past decade? Is there really an “orphan crisis?” Kathryn recounts an episode of adoption fraud from Ethiopia, and explains the trouble with adoptions from Liberia. Finally, has the evangelical community reassessed some of the systemic problems with international adoptions?
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with comic, writer, and activist Maysoon Zayid about whether talking about politics and religion can be funny (and how Al Gore destroyed her life). Maysoon explains why she tries to change the language Palestinians use to describe the occupation—a word she says has lost its meaning. Maysoon describes the tour she would have given President Obama during his trip to Israel-Palestine. Plus: Maysoon’s charity, Maysoon’s Kids, which helps children with disabilities living in the occupied territories.
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Sarah Wildman about President Obama’s trip to Israel, in light of Sarah W.’s recent reporting in Jerusalem. Why would the building of settlements in the E1 area be a “fatal heart attack” to the prospects for peace? They discuss the settlement-building “swagger” that continues to pervade the new coalition government. Is a third intifada just waiting for a spark to set it off? They highlight the inclusive philosophy of pro-Zionist, pro-peace activist Daniel Seidemann, who runs the NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem. Plus: How Jerusalem is being Disney-fied through archaeology, and what Jerusalem will Obama see?
On The Posner Show, Sarah and Wil discuss the hit History Channel miniseries The Bible. Wil thinks the producers have done a good job with some elements, but critiques the series’ erasure of women. She focuses in particular on Hagar, a figure of special significance in both Islamic and African-American Christian tradition, as well as the Battle of Jericho. Why are all the characters—with the exception of angels and Satan—portrayed by white actors, until we meet Samson? Wil has strong criticisms of the way Samson is portrayed as a “mandingo” figure. Does the series help solve, as its producers contend, the problem of biblical illiteracy? Plus: Rape and polygamy in the King David story.
On The Posner Show, Sarah and Mary discuss newly elected Pope Francis. Mary argues that even though Francis is the first Jesuit pope, he will continue on the path set by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Mary, who has lived in Argentina, expresses concerns about the Catholic Church’s involvement with the dictatorship during the country’s notorious Dirty War. She also notes that Francis has protested the current government’s liberal policies, particularly on gay marriage and abortion. She compares the Church’s role in the Dirty War to the sex abuse scandal in the US. Sarah suggests that media coverage of Francis has overemphasized his compassion for the poor. Plus: Will there be any change from Benedict’s efforts to make a “leaner, meaner church“?
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Debra about the legacy of former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop, who died this week. Koop was an ardent foe of abortion, but Debra recounts his adherence to science, not ideology, in concluding there was no medical evidence that abortion harms women. Has today’s anti-abortion movement differed from Koop by not separating moral beliefs from medical facts? On the AIDS crisis, Debra credits Koop with “changing the dialogue”, and promoting AIDS education in schools, in the 1980s. Has school-based sex education become passé? Plus: Debra and Koop on the set of the Golden Girls.
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks to Paul about Tim Tebow’s cancellation of his appearance at First Baptist Church in Dallas. They discuss the controversial statements the church’s pastor, Robert Jeffress, has made about Mormons, Catholics, Jews, and gays. Did Tebow disagree with the statements, or did he just want to protect his image? Paul is happy that evangelicals are less inclined to wage culture wars, but Sarah worries about hateful thoughts left unvoiced. Plus: Paul and Sarah make predictions on how long it will take for conservative Christians to accept gay marriage.
On The Posner Show, Sarah speaks with Anthea about the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Anthea argues that the greatest mark on Benedict’s legacy will be his reactive, rather than proactive, response to the sex abuse scandal; she argues that the next pope will have to deal decisively with sexual abuse within the Church. Anthea and Sarah discuss the reasons why Catholics are leaving the church, and Benedict’s desire for a smaller, purer church. Will the next Pope come from outside of Europe, perhaps from Latin America, Asia, Africa—or even Canada? Finally, Anthea says the next pope needs to be of the 21st century, rather than the 17th.
Sarah brings Corey on The Posner Show to talk about the controversial “boycott, sanctions, and divestment” (BDS) panel recently held at Brooklyn College. Corey tells the story of the backlash against the panel, and the threat to academic freedom that it posed. Sarah and Corey debate the wisdom of the backlash, and Corey describes the BDS event itself. Would this type of event cause as much controversy at a different school? Finally, Corey argues that Brooklyn College is changing—and that this isn’t a bad thing.
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks to Gershom, who says that despite all the fireworks over whether Chuck Hagel is “pro-Israel,” Israelis really don’t care. Gershom breaks down last week’s election results, and hypothesizes about the next coalition government. Although many declared the results a victory for the center, Gershom point out that the only blocs that gained were from the left. Can Yair Lapid help push Israel back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians? Will a second-term Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry be able to change the dynamic? Gershom disputes the conventional wisdom in the US that Israeli society has moved to the right, and makes the case against despair about the peace process. Finally, what do the Hagel hearings reveal about America’s relationship with Israel?