In going on Paula Zahn's CNN show this evening, was Al Sharpton's goal to quell the controversy surrounding his comments about Mormonism, or to inflame it? If the former, he failed miserably. If the latter, he succeeded admirably. Far from retracting his earlier allegation that Mormons aren't real believers, he repeated it, adding an allegation of racism for good measure.
Let's recall Sharpton's original statement, that in going on the Zahn show he presumably was seeking to explicate. Debating Christopher Hitchens recently, Sharpton said:
"And as for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway. So don't worry about that. That's a temporary, that's a temporary situation."
Discussing those comments on "Paula Zahn Now" this evening during the 8 PM EDT half-hour, Sharpton and Zahn discussed the fact that until 1965 [according to CNN], or 1978, according to Sharpton, the Mormon church did not accord blacks full status. That engendered the following exchange.
CNN HOST PAULA ZAHN: Prior to 1965 -
THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON: I think it's 1978.
ZAHN: Well, our researchers are using a different date. But prior to that date, when blacks were finally considered equals within the church, did you find the Mormon church racist?
SHARPTON: I think that's that by self-definition. If prior to '65, '78, whenever it was, they did not see blacks as equal, I do not believe that as real worshippers of God, because I do not believe that God distinguishes between people. That's not bigotry, that's responding to their bigotry.
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