Matt Zeitlin catches Jeralyn Merritt flipping out at the very idea that Howard Dean would acknowledge the existence of evangelicals as a political base. The problem with this brand of anticlericalism isn’t just the backlash it clearly causes; it’s that evangelicals can help the Democratic policy agenda in nontrivial ways. As the Evangelical Climate Initiative shows, evangelicals can provide an excellent counterbalance to the more libertarian elements in the Republican party that oppose any and all action against global warming. The defection of people like Anne Rice from the abortion prohibition cause to “safe legal and rare” shows that even a little bit of compromise on the issue can bring to the party voters otherwise unreachable. And there are even some evangelicals who are explicitly on the left on issues of social justice. The ideological puritanism of people like Merritt is a threat to the political success of liberal goals, and should be acknowledged as such.