| I really never thought I'd see the day that I would be defending Al Sharpton. Actually, I'm only going to defend him to a point.
Last Monday (May 7th, 2007), while debating atheist Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton said "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that." Later Sharpton attempted clarifying that statement to The New York Times by saying, "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."
What Sharpton said originally makes sense to me and he should not have brushed it off the way he did. He totally backed down, and this shows me that he is more concerned about politics than he is about defending "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). His excuse did not clarify what he originally stated. The operative term in Sharpton's original statement is "really." Those who "really believe in God" is quite a different use of terms from "other believers" as Sharpton later said.
Given Sharpton's original statement, I don't agree with Romney calling his comments "bigoted." Perhaps Sharpton and other Christians have good reasons to think that Mormons don't really believe in God… at least in the way that the rest of Christianity does. Thus, Christians could have family members and friends who are Mormon, and love them deeply, yet think that they "really" don't believe in God. Instead Christians may rightly be concerned that Mormons are following a false god or an imaginary idol to hell. If that's even possible, then the "bigot" charge here is totally unfounded.
Romney's reaction is reminiscent of the homosexual community playing the "homophobic" card on anyone who dares to call homosexual practice "sin." Who wants to be known as a homophobe or a bigot? This is a slick game to end all rational religious discussion. The assumption here is that religion has nothing to do with rationality or truth; religion is simply a matter of feeling. If one attacks religion or one argues against a practice from a religious perspective, then obviously one is simply motivated by hate.
Finally, if anyone's comments are "bigoted," it is Romney's own prophets and scriptures. They are full of bigotry. God doesn't curse people by giving them black skin as he did in the Book of Mormon. The LDS God is not "really" God since he's a racist. Here is something I wrote on "Racism in Mormonism."
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United