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<i>The Body</i> Gets Slammed

It was a scathing letter faxed Friday afternoon from Reform Party Chairman Russ Verney to maverick Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, reports CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones.

"Your comments...about religion, sexual assault, overweight people, drugs, prostitution, women's undergarments and many other subjects do not represent the values, principles, or ethics upon which this party was built," Verney wrote. "For the good of the members, you should resign now..."

In an interview with CBS News Verney said "The members of the Reform Party feel he's damaged them all across the country, that he's hurt their integrity, their reputation that they've toiled day and night over the last years to build, their reputation to stand on principles and ethics."

It was what Ventura said in a Playboy interview about religion that has provoked the biggest outrage. He said, "Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business."

In comments last night, the usually combative Ventura, found himself on the defensive. "You know we're all going to say things that will offend someone, but you know they're not meant that way," he said.

Ventura also argued that he would be forgiven. "My feeling on the religious end is that I feel all the religious leaders will forgive me, because I think that's what all of religion is about, is forgiving," he said.

But that appears to be wishful thinking. The Christian Coalition, meeting in Washington today, took note of Ventura's comments. "I mean Jesse's an ex Seal, and I hope he doesn't come after me," said Pat Robertson. "He's a big tough wrestler. But I think he's off his rocker."

Jesse Ventura has never hesitated to fire back at his critics, but tonight there's no comment from the governor.

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