I am sure that many people have already heard about the remark that the Rev. Al Sharpton made about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney while he was debating atheist author Christopher Hitchens at the New York Public Library’s Beaux-Arts headquarters on Monday. During the debate Sharpton said, “As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don’t worry about that; that’s a temporary situation.”  A spokesman for the Romney campaign said, “It is terribly disheartening and disappointing to hear Reverend Sharpton offer such appalling comments about a fellow American’s faith. America is a nation of many faiths and common values, and bigotry toward anyone because of their beliefs is unacceptable.”

Though, instead of apologizing, Sharpton accused the Romney campaign of trying to drum up sympathy for their candidate. He accused the Romney people of engaging in a, “blatant effort to fabricate a controversy to help their lagging campaign. In no way did I attack Mormons or the Mormon Church when I responded that other believers, not atheists, would vote against Mr. Romney for purely political reasons,” Sharpton said. What? Sharpton’s explanation makes absolutely no sense at all. He said those who really believe in God will defeat the Mormon. To me, this implies that he feels that Mormons really don’t believe in God. In an interview with the AP yesterday, Sharpton backed off his comments, just a bit, “What I said was that we would defeat him, meaning as a Republican,” Sharpton said. “A Mormon, by definition, believes in God. They don’t believe in God the way I do, but by definition, they believe in God.”

Romney himself has tried to take the high road in all of this. “I don’t know Reverend Sharpton,” he said. “I doubt he is personally such a thing, but the comment was a comment which could be described as a bigoted comment. Perhaps he didn’t mean it that way, but the way it came out was inappropriate and wrong,” said Romney. This whole situation is an example of the kind of thing that the Romney campaign is going to face all through the ’08 cycle. The problem is that we live in a politically correct society, so no one is really going to come out and say that they won’t vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion, but that is the exact reason why Evangelical conservatives, and many Christians in both parties, will not support him.

I also think the bigoted is not the proper term for this case. Sharpton, like many Christians do, was expressing his religious intolerance towards Mormonism. I have always believed that Sharpton is a hypocrite whose number one goal has always been the promotion of Al Sharpton. Personally, I am not a Mormon or a Republican, but I am opposed to intolerance in all forms, no matter where it comes from. To me Al Sharpton’s biggest error here was saying publicly what many have been saying privately for months now, which is that because of his faith, Mitt Romney will not win the presidency. Sharpton is a hypocrite, and what he said wasn’t right, but that doesn’t mean that it might not be true.

CNN article

AP article

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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