Sarah Posner invites guests 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 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?
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Katha on the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Is the term “pro-choice” passé—and if so, what should supporters of abortion rights use in its stead? Does it help to talk about abortion being complicated? A majority of Americans support upholding Roe v. Wade, but has anti-abortion activism at the state level effectively banned abortion in much of the country? Plus: Why Katha is happy that Todd Akin spoke from the heart about “legitimate rape.”
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Christian ethicist David Gushee about the Louie Giglio inauguration controversy. Giglio’s primary issue has been activism against human trafficking, which David calls “the ultimate consensus issue.” But the religious right’s litmus test for evangelicals forces them to choose between inclusion in their evangelical community and speaking their mind. Sarah and David discuss why the right’s persecution narratives are toxic, and David describes how conservative evangelicals have been “dethroned from cultural hegemony.” Should we even be having a public prayer at the inauguration? Will the Giglio incident make it harder for Democrats to reach out to white evangelicals? Plus: David’s challenge to his fellow evangelicals.
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Brent about how “pro-Israel” groups have dominated the debate over the Hagel nomination. Brent argues their dominance is due, in part, to the de-democratization of American Jewish organizations. Is the term “Jewish lobby” anti-Semitic, and is the term “Israel lobby” even accurate? Brent and Sarah discuss the role of Christian Zionists. What should we make of Rand Paul’s trip to Israel? Plus: Can we talk about the Palestinians?
On The Posner Show, Sarah and Denny discuss the election and the future of the evangelical alliance with the GOP. Denny predicts that by 2016 marriage will be off the table in presidential politics, but that it will continue to resonate as a “religious liberty” issue. How far will private companies push for religious exemptions from laws and regulations? Denny explains why, unlike many evangelicals, he wasn’t surprised that Romney lost. He also argues that the religious right will continue to support the GOP, but may find its role changing due to demographic shifts.