Orrin Hatch Splits With GOP On “Ground Zero Mosque”

The senior Senator from Utah is taking what is probably a minority position among Republicans:

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) this week became one of the most prominent members of his party to voice his support for the Lower Manhattan mosque.

In a local television interview over the weekend, Hatch said developers have the right to build the proposed Park51 Islamic center, which includes a mosque, two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“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,” said Hatch, who is a Mormon. “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.”


The Utah senator acknowledged that public opinion is against building the Islamic center, but he said that should not play a role in the final decision.

“That should not make the difference if they decide to do it,” he said, adding that, “I’d be the first” to defend its construction.



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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. sam says:

    Mormons have had their own problems with trying to build temples, or at least temples with a certain architecture (a tall steeple with a statue of the angel Moroni atop it).

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    It’s a big tent these days and Hatch can reasonably state his position.  No big deal.  Of course it still doesn’t mean being opposed makes you a bigot.

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Of course it still doesn’t mean being opposed makes you a bigot.”

    And it doesn’t mean your not. It depends on the grounds on which you oppose and many have opposed on the grounds that it’s (cue: scary music) a muslim mosque. 

  4. legion says:

    It’s a big tent these days and Hatch can reasonably state his position.
    Really, Steve? I bet within a week you will either see a) Hatch walk this statement back or b) stories popping up about how “some Republicans” having “concerns” about his “commitment to GOP principles” and looking at candidates to threaten him in his next primary.
    In today’s GOP, if you don’t toe the Tea Party-extremist line, you don’t get party support. Period.

  5. To Quote Lewis Black:

    “This can’t be right!!  I AGREE WITH ORRIN HATCH!!!!!”

  6. Nathan Orien says:

    Yes, if they own the property, then they are free to build there, as insensitive as it would be. But there’s nothing unconstitutional or bigoted about calling for the rezoning of Ground Zero to prevent it from becoming a platform for non pre-existing special interest groups, who would use it to promote an agenda, just like any other battleground or historic site in the US.

  7. Peter says:

    Finally a politician speaking up for the rights that this country is proud to enjoy.  Hopefully we won’t wake up and find he has reversed his position because its unpopular.

  8. reid says:

    Nathan: No, rezoning could very well be bigoted depending on the reasons for doing so.  Rezoning in a fair way for 2+ blocks around ground zero (in a dense city) sounds problematic anyway.