The storm forcibly brewed in the customarily small teacup over the Cordoba Centre (or, if you prefer, Park 51) shows little sign of abatement. There is still a lot of name calling over the project, usually labelling it the “Ground Zero Mosque”, although it is not at Ground Zero, and nor is it a mosque.
Those pointing out – as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has done – that religious freedom is a First Amendment issue are being either ignored, or shouted down. So for anyone of prominence, and particularly within the GOP, to step in and voice their support is a brave thing to do right now.
Well, one prominent Republican has stepped in: Orrin Hatch, who sits in the Senate representing Utah, has spoken out in a radio interview in favour of the right to build the Cordoba Centre. He has also demonstrated a sound grasp of geography, something that has eluded the most strident critics, such as Sarah Palin.
Hatch has said of the proposed building’s closeness to Ground Zero “... it’s a few blocks away, it isn’t right there”, and has also said that religious freedom is “one of the most important things in the Constitution”. He also acknowledged the lack of nationwide support for the project, but has said “... that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I’d be the first to stand up for their rights”.
Maybe the clarity with which Orrin Hatch sees this issue is because he is a Mormon, and adherents to that Church have not always enjoyed an easy co-existence with those of other faiths. If so, it is doubly sad that other Mormons have not been able to see things the same way, with at least one prominent adherent, Mitt Romney, managing to be absent from the debate.