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The God Squad

(CBS/AP)
With Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens getting together to debate the existence of God, it was safe to assume we'd end up with some sort of controversy. I'm just surprised that it involved…Mitt Romney?

As you may have heard, Romney is a Mormon. Here's what Sharpton had to say on that matter: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry, that's a temporary situation."

Gothamist suggests that the Romney camp is trying to milk Sharpton's comments for publicity, though it would have been fairly odd if they hadn't acknowledged the jibe. The campaign responded that "[i]t is terribly disheartening and disappointing to hear Reverend Sharpton offer such appalling comments about a fellow American's faith."

Sharpton is backtracking – kinda. "What I said was that we would defeat him, meaning as a Republican," he said. "A Mormon, by definition, believes in God. They don't believe in God the way I do, but by definition, they believe in God."

The press has been trying to figure out how much play to give to Romney's religion, as it isn't easy to gauge how important the issue is to the electorate. Sharpton's comments seem to suggest that his religion is seen as a negative even among other people of faith – something that could certainly hurt Romney in the Republican primaries.