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Al Sharpton to Meet With Mormon Leaders After Slighting Religiosity in Debate

Leaders for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Rev. Al Sharpton are planning an in-person meeting, a church spokesman said.

Sharpton asked for the meeting during a telephone apology he gave to two church elders after he said during a May 7 debate that Mormons don't believe in God.

"Mr. Sharpton and church leaders are looking at possible dates for a meeting, but nothing is imminent," church spokesman Scott Trotter said.

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Sharpton spoke by phone with Russell M. Nelson and Henry B. Eyring, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-tier of church leadership.

The minister and former Democratic presidential candidate's remarks were about Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Sharpton said that "as for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that, that's a temporary situation."

Sharpton says the remark was distorted for political purposes and has apologized to "regular Mormons" for the slight.

Sharpton said he "wasn't saying that Mormons didn't believe in God, I was saying that we weren't going to have to rely on atheists" to defeat Romney.

Sharpton has not apologized to Romney, but called for a "dialogue or reconciliation."

A Romney spokesman has said nothing constructive would be accomplished by meeting with Sharpton. Romney has called Sharpton's remarks bigoted.

Sharpton has also raised questions about Romney's views on the way African-American Mormons were treated by their church before 1978, when only white men were allowed to hold certain religious offices.

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