Mitt Romney assails Al Sharpton’s Mormon comment

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney denounced the Rev. Al Sharpton’s remarks about God and his Mormon faith, saying it could be construed as “a bigoted comment.”

On Monday, Sharpton said in a debate that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Romney for the White House. He denied he was questioning the Mormon’s own belief in God.

“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,” Sharpton said during a debate with Hitchens at the New York Public Library.

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Asked if he considered the civil rights leader a bigot, Romney demurred.

Same Terms, Different Meanings

The Mormon Church claims to be Christian. However, while it uses Christian terminology (including the use of the name Jesus Christ) Mormon theology interprets that terminology in ways that show their religion is not compatible with — nor comparable to — historic, Biblical Christianity

Romney added that he was willing to believe Sharpton didn’t mean to be offensive.

In a statement, Sharpton accused the Romney campaign of a “blatant effort to fabricate a controversy to help their lagging campaign” and argued that it was Hitchens who criticized Mormons.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Sharpton denied questioning Romney’s belief in God and suggested the Romney camp was trying to stir up a controversy because of their political differences.

Romney, the former one-term governor of Massachusetts, said that as he campaigns, he hears little criticism about his religion.

The issue of Romney’s religion is often compared to the scrutiny given to former President John Kennedy, whose Catholic faith was an issue in the 1960 campaign. Kennedy dealt with the matter by giving a high-profile speech in which he said his religion would not shape his policy choices.

“I make it very clear that the doctrines of any one church are not the basis for electing any individual in this country — never have been and I doubt they ever will be,” Romney said.

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