The so-called “Reverend” Al Sharpton, defender of all things racial has turned religious bigot. In a debate with Christopher Hitchens, Mr. Sharpton implied that Mormons don’t really believe in God. Quipped Sharpton:

“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.”

The story has been picked up by the AP and is now appearing in newspapers all over the country, including this version form the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who recently urged that radio host Don Imus be fired for making a racially insensitive remark, said in a debate that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Republican Mitt Romney for the White House. But Sharpton denied he was questioning the Mormon’s own belief in God.

Rather, the New York Democrat said he was contrasting himself with Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author he was debating at the time.

“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 Monday during a debate with Hitchens at the New York Public Library’s Beaux-Arts headquarters.

The comment was first reported Tuesday in a blog on The New York Times’s Web site.

Fresh off his high moral crusade to make the world safe from the likes of Don Imus, it appears Mr. Sharpton’s halo has fallen just a bit. Hugh Hewitt has two good posts, I recommend here and here. J. Daniel Crawford also has an excellent post on Sharpton over here at BCC.

My sincere hope is that the media plays out this Sharpton debacle as forcefully and as loud did Sharpton on the Imus comments. Mr. Sharpton, religious bigotry has no place in the public discourse. Your jocular repartee with Mr. Hitchens belittles 12 million Mormons world wide. We are just as deserving of respect and dignity for our religious beliefs as was the Rutger’s women’s basket ball team for their racial heritage.  At least Don Imus had the decency to apologize for his remarks.  We’re still waiting for yours.

Update 5/8/07 9:35 p.m. Watch Brother Al on You Tube here.