GOP Sen. Hatch: Religious Freedom “Made This Country Great”

The Utah lawmaker notes that Muslims were killed on 9/11, too.

By Jamilah King Aug 31, 2010

Finally, someone with sense speaks up from the Republican Party in the "Ground Zero Mosque" fiasco. On Monday Utah Senator Orrin Hatch offered his support for the construction of the Park51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero. In an interview with Fox 12 News in Salt Lake City, Hatch called Islam a "great religion" and said that the country’s opposition shouldn’t "make a difference:"

Let’s be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. The only question is are they being insensitive to those who suffered the loss of loved ones? We know there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too and we know it’s a great religion. … But as far as their right to build that mosque, they have that right.

I just think what’s made this country great is we have religious freedom. That’s not the only thing, but it’s one of the most important things in the Constitution. […]

Hatch, who’s Mormon, has been a longtime advocate of religious freedom. Think Progress pointed out that in his defense of the Park51 project Hatch noted that his own religion has faced its share of opposition in building houses of worship. Still, fellow Mormons Glenn Beck and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have come out in opposition of the project, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been "noticeably absent."