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I’ve been on vacation and out of circulation for the past week, so I’m scrambling to get caught up on all the latest goings-on. Turns out that reading a week’s worth of stuff in a compressed timeframe can sometimes make it easier to catch interesting juxtapositions. Two items in particular that jumped out at me:

Frank Rich’s column this Sunday talked about how Giuliani’s continued popularity with Republicans, even in Bible Belt South Carolina, demonstrates the severely diminished clout of the religious right, even on their home turf.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Chris Bowers had a long post yesterday about how Obama effectively doomed his own campaign with his willingness to emphasize capitulation unity and religious pandering over progressive values (see: McClurkin, Donnie), thus alienating the liberal “creative class” who really really wanted to support him.

Taken together, these two pieces suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, Republicans and Democrats alike will finally stop fearing the wrath of the right-wing fundies. It doesn’t pay dividends on the Republican side (how are those Huckabee and Brownback campaigns doing?), and it’s downright suicidal on the Democratic side.

This is not to say that Democrats should be actively hostile or indifferent to religion; just that they should never equate intolerance with piety. if Christian Democrats want to show off how religious they are, they can talk about progressive New Testament virtues like peace, compassion and tolerance instead of throwing gays overboard.