Sarah Jones

Staff Writer

Location icon United States of America

I currently cover politics and culture for The New Republic.


The New Republic

New Republic
Why Conservatives Blame Poverty on the Poor

Spencer Platt/Getty Images A new essay by National Review's Kevin Williamson exposes the ideological blind spots of responsibility politics. Scapegoat, prophet, moron, rogue-the poor white is a shapeshifter. He changes forms as the needs of his beholders change.

New Republic
How Trump Stole the Soul of the Values Voter Summit

This weekend's annual gathering was evidence that the religious right never had much quarrel with far-right populism. There is a point during every Values Voter Summit when the unconverted observer fights stupor. The old white men are interchangeable, distinguished only by the different colors of their ties.

New Republic
We're All Living in Hobby Lobby's Bible Nation

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images Hobby Lobby's owners do not just want to change public policy. They want to intervene in the course of human history. Hobby Lobby stores feel like a second home if you were raised evangelical. It's Vacation Bible School and Sunday School and girls' Bible study, located inside one shabby-chic warren.

New Republic
Why Republicans Blamed the Las Vegas Massacre on "Evil"

Drew Angerer/Getty Images Their rhetoric is a symptom not only of religious hypocrisy but also secularized corruption. The devil went down to Vegas and shot 500 people last week. Such, at any rate, was the moral of Stephen Paddock's rampage for Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, in a recent interview with CBS News: "I do not think that the United States Congress can legislate away evil."

New Republic
How Ed Gillespie Became a Trumpist

The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia is establishment through and through. His turn toward Trumpism is a dire omen for the party. The motto of the gang MS-13-"Kill, Rape, Control"- pulsates on the screen, before cutting to a graffiti portrait of Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor of Virginia.

New Republic
How Silicon Valley's Monopolies Abet Conservative Propaganda

Facebook and Google say they are neutral platforms, and this is technically accurate. But they are also easy targets for cash-flush propagandists, while acting as gatekeepers for cash-poor media organizations. "On the plus side, Google and Facebook are amazing distribution systems that reach billions of people," said David Chavern, head of the News Media Alliance.

New Republic
The Nashville Statement Is the Religious Right's Death Rattle

Michael Springer/Getty Images Beneath an unequivocal stance against queer sexual orientation lies a deep insecurity about the Christian right's position in American politics. American Evangelicals should feel as though they have inherited the earth.

New Republic
How Trump Is Creating a Propaganda State

Though it is typically produced by governments, propaganda can also be created by non-state actors, including political parties. Roger Ailes understood this a long time ago. Ailes unabashedly embraced propagandistic techniques as a means to secure power for Richard Nixon and the broader Republican Party.

New Republic
Can Any Democratic Candidate Satisfy the Left?

To understand where the left might draw that line, it is necessary to first understand the substance of its critique. By questioning Harris and the party's other rising stars, the left performs necessary political work.

New Republic
Emmanuel Macron Is No Model For Democrats

The French centrist is floundering in the polls, a warning for those who want to mimic his politics. Emmanuel Macron has suggested that France still wants a king, and that it "should think and move like a start-up." In his official portrait, he included two iPhones as "symbolic objects."

New Republic
Liberals Helped Create Trump's New Bogeyman, the "Alt-Left"

And here's Eric Boehlert of Shareblue, the social media network that was created by David Brock to help lead the online resistance to Trump: Liberals often use "alt-left" to describe progressives they consider rude or with whom they have Twitter beef; it is personal animus disguised as politics.

New Republic
"It's Time For West Virginia To Rise Up": A Q&A with Paula Swearengin

I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree. Bernie won the primaries here because Bernie was offering solutions. Donald Trump won the election here because he was offering jobs. West Virginia is ready for change, and ready for solutions, and ready to build a good economic infrastructure.

New Republic
Why Republicans Blamed the Las Vegas Massacre on "Evil"

Drew Angerer/Getty Images Their rhetoric is a symptom not only of religious hypocrisy but also secularized corruption. The devil went down to Vegas and shot 500 people last week. Such, at any rate, was the moral of Stephen Paddock's rampage for Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, in a recent interview with CBS News: "I do not think that the United States Congress can legislate away evil."

New Republic
Arresting Disabled Bodies

When people look at a woman in her wheelchair, they may experience pity. To them, people with disabilities exist either to demonstrate the mystery of God or the capriciousness of biology. But their pity is driven by the deeper fear that some accident or onset of permanent disease will shunt them into this shadow kingdom and there will be no escape.

New Republic
Our Bad Foreign Policy

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images Bernie Sanders's speech at Westminster College was an attempt to break through the calcified ideologies of the national security establishment. The war in Afghanistan is 16 years old, yet America does not have an anti-war party.

New Republic
The Invisible Veterans of the Left

"Language about service and veterans is more or less monopolized by Republicans," Ian Boudreau, an Army veteran who identifies as a socialist, told me. "I just want to hear Democrats talk about it. They seem a little uncomfortable with it."

New Republic
How the Democrats' Email Strategy Went Haywire

Furthermore, consultants don't all agree about the dangers of the churn-and-burn approach. Mothership Strategies would not go on the record for this story, and neither would a representative of the Ossoff campaign. But Stephanie Grasmick Sager, a partner with Rising Tide Interactive, told the New Republic, "We don't worry about presidential campaigns ruining TV because they run nonstop commercials in October.

New Republic
Can Democrats Win Rural Virginia Voters?

He credited the state party, however, for helping Tazewell Democrats succeed with the resources available. And in traditional Appalachian fashion, organizers have found ways to cope with scarcity. "We've sent out in the last two months over 300 handwritten letters for the Democratic Party here in Tazewell County," he said.

New Republic
Bret Stephens Isn't the Only Problem at the New York Times Op-Ed Page

At this point the case against the New York Times's decision to give Bret Stephens an op-ed column is well-known. His comments on race-he has warned of "the disease of the Arab mind" and believes Black Lives Matter contains "thuggish elements"-are atrocious. He doubts the validity of campus rape statistics, and is a climate change skeptic.

New Republic
The Leftovers' Hungry Ghosts

The series finale had disappointed hopes, thwarted quests, and something like resolution. "There was always going to be bulletproof vests, hugs from holy men, tattoos to cover up," Nora Durst says in the finale of The Leftovers . She is speaking to Kevin Garvey, the show's protagonist, and she is trying to explain why she disappeared into the Australian outback for years.

New Republic
Why Bernie Sanders Shouldn't Run for President Again

But celebrity is a double-edged sword for any grassroots movement. Barack Obama's Organizing for America withered without Obama's involvement. The Clinton campaign also serves as a warning in this respect: Party leadership rolled Clinton out almost as if she were a product and urged voters to be "with her" rather than with any political philosophy or mission, as if her name alone implied a set of positive characteristics.

New Republic
A New Solidarity in the North Country

"The only good thing about Northern Pass so far are all the people we've met," Samson says. "They're amazing. Who would have thought we'd all work together? We're farmers, loggers, millworkers, lawyers, doctors, and now the Yale students."

New Republic
The Invisible Veterans of the Left

"Language about service and veterans is more or less monopolized by Republicans," Ian Boudreau, an Army veteran who identifies as a socialist, told me. "I just want to hear Democrats talk about it. They seem a little uncomfortable with it."

New Republic
How Trump Stole the Soul of the Values Voter Summit

This weekend's annual gathering was evidence that the religious right never had much quarrel with far-right populism. There is a point during every Values Voter Summit when the unconverted observer fights stupor. The old white men are interchangeable, distinguished only by the different colors of their ties.

New Republic
American Gods Is a Dark Fairytale of a Country in Crisis

That's directly at odds with what Silicon Valley believes about itself. The industry's most prominent evangelists-near deities in our own world-say they are enriching the human experience, making us more connected, more tolerant, and more satisfied. We reward them with offerings: biopics and TED Talks and, most importantly, money.

New Republic
The Deification of Hillary Clinton

In fact, Destruction reads more like an exercise in public relations. Clinton is not a representative of the "establishment," Bordo argues, but has consistently been a progressive. If conservatives hadn't vilified her in the '90s-if Bernie Sanders hadn't run against her-she would have defeated Donald Trump.

New Republic
How Trumpcare's Failure Sets the Stage for Single-Payer

Trumpcare failed for numerous reasons, starting with the incompetence of President Trump himself and the dysfunction of the Republican Party. But the defeat of Trumpcare points to a deeper, simpler politics surrounding health care. Most voters have no opinion on the efficacy of high-risk pools.

New Republic
Trump Has Turned the GOP Into the Party of Eugenics

The work of Trump adviser Michael Anton also reveals a grim obsession with genetic purity. "'Diversity' is not 'our strength;' it's a source of weakness, tension, and disunion," he wrote in the Unz Review last year. As the Huffington Post noted at the time, the same essay claimed that the aviator Charles Lindbergh's fascist America First Committee had been unfairly maligned.

New Republic
Donald Trump Is No Friend to Veterans

The Military Times reported last November that veterans now comprise roughly one third of the federal workforce-or more than 600,000 positions-a testament to the success of projects like former President Barack Obama's Veteran Employment Initiative. These job opportunities are critical for veterans, but it also leaves them particularly vulnerable to political turmoil.

New Republic
The Case Against Unity

The party coalesced early around a deeply flawed and unpopular candidate. Its experts made potentially fatal campaign errors in key swing states. The rhetoric and marketing they deployed didn't motivate the Obama coalition-millennials, minorities, women-to come out to the polls in great enough numbers.

New Republic
The Young Pope: An Authoritarian With an American Accent

And he just might be an atheist. "I'm saying that I don't believe in God, Tommaso," he tells his confessor, thus concluding the pilot. There's nothing like it on TV at the moment and that is both part of its appeal and part of its trouble.

New Republic
The Year in Faux Protests

Welcome to the wizarding world of liberal politics! In chronological order, a depressing tale: This is a small sample because I began to lose the will to live during the process of compiling it. There are more examples: ABC News ran a segment called "Finding the Relationship Between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Harry Potter," while The Mary Sue called Clinton "The Hermione of Politics."

New Republic
How Trumpcare Turns Back the Clock on Disability Rights

"They claim that they've solved that problem. It's very difficult to understand how that possibly happened," says Decker of the National Disability Rights Network. Since rare diseases are often hereditary, several members of the same family may find themselves in the same precarious financial position because of their shared pre-existing condition.

New Republic
The Year Silicon Valley Went Morally Bankrupt

The disrupter class has long believed it is in the business of midwifing a new age. In his 1996 manifesto, "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," John Perry Barlow broadly addressed the government, declaring cyberspace free of the "tyrannies you seek to impose on us."

New Republic
The Handmaid's Tale Is a Warning to Conservative Women

Hulu's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel lays bare the horrors of collusion with the patriarchy. Illustration by Tran Nguyen Like the Kingdom of God, the Republic of Gilead is both now and not yet. Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale conjures a theocratic dystopia-a version of the United States taken over by fundamentalist Christians after a terrorist attack on Washington.

New Republic
Hillary Clinton's Celebrity Feminism Was a Failure

White working class voters aren't necessarily committed Republicans. As New York magazine reported Wednesday, many had voted for Obama. And there's evidence they still feel warmly about our sitting president, who has a national approval rating of 56 percent.

New Republic
The Religious Right's Devotion to Donald Trump Will End the Movement As We Know It

The list of Republican senators, governors, and congressmen and women who have announced they'll no longer vote for Donald Trump has grown to 46 as of Sunday morning. Yet the religious right hangs on. Conservative evangelicals, who form the core of the movement's contemporary iteration, told various outlets this weekend that they still back the GOP nominee, despite Friday's publication of a video ...

New Republic
J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America

And he isn't interested in government solutions. All hillbillies need to do is work hard, maybe do a stint in the military, and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did. "Public policy can help," he writes, "but there is no government that can fix these problems for us ...

New Republic
The Loud Rise and Quiet Fall of Roy Moore

Cue another lawsuit, filed by the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (where, full disclosure, I used to work). Moore didn't win this second skirmish, but he refused to concede defeat, defying a court order to remove the monument amid massive protests in his support.

Freelance Work

The Nation
Can Local Food Help Appalachia Build a Post-Coal Future?

The lazy-hillbilly stereotype doesn't survive scrutiny of the foods that hillbillies invented. To survive harsh winters and harsher topographies, Appalachians learned to adapt. Smith cites shucky beans as an example: "They have these big pods, and they were selected and grown because they have the most protein.

The Nation
The Left's Opportunity in Wisconsin

Whiteaker and many others in Janesville didn't anticipate the scale of the city's economic collapse in the wake of the plant's closure and the financial crash. Goldstein reports that roughly 9,000 people in and near Janesville lost their jobs in 2008 and 2009, meaning that a little over 14 percent of the city's population (at that point, 63,540 people) were unemployed by 2010.

You've never heard of Jackie Stump, but he might be the antidote to Donald Trump

Coal miner, union leader, Virginia state delegate: Jackie Stump bore all three titles before his death last month at the age of 68. Stump's death received little coverage-a quiet end to an unquiet life. But in 1989, the former coal miner made national headlines for his surprise ouster of 12-term Democratic legislator Donald McGlothlin.

The strange story of Sewanee, the KKK, and a Franklin County Gay/Straight Alliance

As the nation shifts toward a broad acceptance of marriage equality, the South is increasingly at war with itself. Franklin County is no outlier, but the story of its GSA isn't just about anti-LGBT animus. The need for-and resistance to-Franklin County's GSA is rooted in the area's history of White supremacy.

Appalachia isn't dead; it just needs reinforcements

On Wednesday nights, cars thicken a narrow road in Bristol, Va. They're drawn by a nondescript white building; more like a warehouse than a place you'd expect people to gather. But the warehouse is actually Impact International Church. Its pastor, Ryan LeStrange, says that he is an apostle of the Lord and a prophet, and he can work miraculous healings.

Religion News Service
Atheist politicians might be rare now, but not for long - Faith and Reason

Prowling in statistics for stories is one of my favorite things. Sarah Jones joins me in that passion. Here is a Faith & Reason guest post by Jones, a communications associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, on a fascinating new finding.

How TLC's Fundamentalism-As-Kitsch Hurts Women

Although my parents do not practice Quiverfull Christianity - a small blessing, but one for which I am endlessly grateful - they did practice a strict version of Christian fundamentalism. Fundamentalist girls learn variations of the same theme, and it usually starts with modesty.

Religion News Service
You don't have to support Charlie Hebdo's cartoons to support free expression - Faitheist

This piece was coauthored by RNS columnist Chris Stedman and Sarah Jones, Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of Jones's employer. On January 6, three gunmen burst into the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical staple of French media, and murdered 12 people in a terrorist attack.

Religion News Service
Hobby Lobby take two? Moody encourages witnessing at work - Faitheist

Moody Theological Seminary’s “Faith, Work and Economics Initiative” is explicitly evangelistic, and advertises itself as an educational opportunity for business owners and other professionals interested in so-called “workplace ministry.”

Religion News Service
NYPD Muslim surveillance should concern atheists, too - Faitheist

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, the NYPD targeted 28 “ancestries of interest,” including Egyptian, Pakistani, and American Black Muslims. Under the auspices of its Demographics Unit—recently rebranded, opaquely enough, as the “Zone Assessment Unit”—police monitored family-owned businesses and established relationships with members of the local Muslim community on false pretenses.

Religion News Service
Is libertarianism compatible with secularism? - Faitheist

It seems clear that the high court’s ruling allows individuals to turn the secular, for-profit corporations they own into a vehicle for imposing their religious views on others. That, in turn, dangerously undermines the First Amendment.

Religion News Service
Nigerian atheist's case isn't just about religion - Faitheist

His experience is a clear example of religiously-motivated persecution. But, as Vice News noted in its own coverage of the case, there’s a bit more to the story. Bala couldn’t have been forcibly hospitalized without the Lunacy Act of 1958, a legislative legacy of the British government’s colonial rule in Nigeria.

The Guardian
The Leftovers: confusion and doubt mirrors my religious journey

From A Thief In The Night to Tim LaHayes's Left Behind series, representations of the Rapture in America have traditionally been promoted by Christians who read the Book of Revelation literally. It's an interpretation I know well: I grew up fundamentalist in the Appalachians.

On Ayaan Hirsi Ali, atheists, and free speech - Faitheist

Following her first contribution to this column a few weeks ago, today's guest column is once again written by Sarah Jones, Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The views expressed in this piece belong to Jones and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer.

Religion News Service
Western atheists: You aren't illegal in Saudi Arabia - Faitheist

As Brian Whitaker pointed out in Al-Bab, Saudi Arabia is legally a Wahhabi state. That’s a particularly strict interpretation of Sunni Islam which means that, as a direct result of this decree, members of other minority Islamic sects—like Ahmadis, Shiites, Sufis, or even Sunnis who disagree with Wahhabism—are at increased risk of persecution. That’s also true for Saudi Christians, Hindus, and all other religious minorities.

Recent Riots Demand Change in Focus for Muslim Brotherhood

For a political movement defined from its earliest days as organized in opposition to the political establishment, renewed riots in the streets of Cairo and other major cities present new challenges for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, the former member of the Muslim Brotherhood recently elected president of the country.

Why the Gezi Park Protests Do Not Herald a Turkish Spring (Yet)

From the start, the Turkish government's plans to develop Gezi Park near Istanbul's central Taksim Square raised a number of concerns. Like all Prime Minister Erdogan's recent gentrification projects, development plans for Gezi Park were meant to enrich companies tied to the ruling AKP party, and to maintain Turkey's GDP growth by stimulating consumption fueled ...

London School of Economics IDEAS
Egyptian Elections Controversy Reveals Older Ideological Struggle

By Sarah Jones. The domestic policies of Egypt's military government have come under great international scrutiny due to its position as the immediate caretakers of the post-Mubarak state. That scrutiny has been fuelled by recent controversial decisions that some activists allege constitute human rights violations and a threat to the democratic process.

Americans United Highlights

Church & State
Homegrown Hate

Brussels. Istanbul. Ankara. Paris. San Bernardino. Beirut. These cities are famous for their history and their culture. More recently, they're also known for the suffering they've experienced at the hands of radicalized Muslims. Terrorism by Islamic extremists is real, but the fringe of that faith holds no exclusive provenance on religiously motivated hate.

Wall of Separation
Love Trumps Hate: LGBT Rights Group Will Continue To Meet At Public High School

A beleaguered Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) may continue to meet in a Franklin County, Tenn., high school - for now. School board officials met this week to determine whether they will disband all clubs at Franklin County High School (FCHS) or allow them to operate subject to certain conditions.

Church & State
Growing Pains

We Gather Together: The Religious Right And The Problem Of Interfaith Politics by Neil J. Young, Oxford University Press, 432 pp. Anyone who has spent any amount of time observing the Religious Right understands that its members belong to different religious traditions. Protestants, Cath­olics and Mormons tend to dominate the movement despite their differences.

Wall of Separation
Legal Jihad: Marine Dad Sues Md. School District Over Lesson On Islam

A former Marine has sued the Charles County, Md., school district over a world history unit on Islam. Kevin Wood, who served in Iraq and identifies as a Catholic, announced the suit yesterday and is represented by the Thomas More Law Society (TMLS).

Wall of Separation
Sense-Free Zone: Okla. Gun Range Owners Face Lawsuit For Turning Muslim Customer Away

The couple, who own Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Oktaha, Okla., posted a sign in a shop window declaring, “This privately owned business is a Muslim Free establishment.” Last year, they allegedly cited this policy when they turned Raja’ee Fatihah away after he identified himself as a Muslim.

Wall of Separation
Evangelical Dilemma: Do Principles Trump Practicality?

Donald Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary last night, and he split the state's evangelical vote to do it. According to The Washington Post , Trump won 27 percent of self-identified evangelicals. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won 23 percent and placed third in the primary overall.

Church & State
Holy Hysteria

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff, Little, Brown & Company, 421 pp. The story's a familiar one. In a frontier Puritan town, young girls were suddenly and dramatically afflicted with inexplicable ailments. Their bodies contorted. They grimaced and spat and howled.

Wall of Separation
Selective Worry: Poll Shows Americans Have Greater Concern For The Rights Of Christians

A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll reports that Americans overwhelmingly prioritize the religious freedom rights of Christians over other faith groups. The results, released early this morning, suggest that 82 percent of Americans believe that it's important for the U.S. government to protect Christians.

Church & State
The Religious Right On Steroids?

Rousas John Rushdoony isn't exactly a household name. And the movement he founded­ - Christian Reconstruction - probably won't be familiar to anyone who isn't a veteran watcher of the Religious Right. But the prolific theologian is a name that First Amendment advocates should know.

Church & State
Persecution Complex

In his book Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson famously observed, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Wall of Separation
No Love For This Bill: Okla. Legislator Proposes Legalizing Hobby Lobby Bible Class

The Mustang, Okla., school district announced two months ago that the Bible curriculum designed by Hobby Lobby's Steve Green and his merry band of conservative evangelical scholars would not appear in its classrooms. First Amendment advocates welcomed the news: Expert reviews of the curriculum revealed that it incorporated a conservative Christian bias and taught the Bible as fact, rather than as history or literature.

Wall of Separation
Putrid Policies: Hobby Lobby Faces Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

New allegations that Hobby Lobby fired a pregnant employee are catapulting the controversial chain into national headlines again. RH Reality Check (RHRC) reported yesterday that a supervisor at the store's Flowood, Miss., branch terminated Felicia Allen after she sought maternity leave. Allen told RHRC that she discovered her pregnancy shortly after starting a job as a cashier.

Wall of Separation
The Good Book Taught Badly?: Okla. School District Approves Hobby Lobby Owner's Bible Course

An Oklahoma school district has approved the use of a Bible curriculum designed by Steve Green, the controversial owner of Hobby Lobby. The Mustang public schools will begin offering the curriculum next academic year. As reported by Religion News Service, Green's curriculum is designed to correspond with his planned Museum of the Bible, which is currently under construction in Washington, D.C.

Church & State
American Theocracy?

Warren Jeffs, self-described "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), sits behind bars in a state prison in the east Texas city of Palestine. But even though he's serving a 120-year sentence for sexually abusing minors, Jeffs, critics say, still manages to run an isolated community of more than 6,000 people that straddles the Utah-Arizona border.

Church & State
Pregnancy Scare

Care Net is proud of its "pro-life" mission. On its website, the network of "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) proclaims that "hundreds of lives" are being saved through its work - and they mean "saved" in more ways than one.

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