In an interview with a Salt Lake City news station on Monday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch forcefully defended a Muslim congregation’s right to build a community and worship center in lower Manhattan, pointing out that it “shouldn’t matter’’ whether or not most Americans agree with its placement, and declaring that religious freedom is “what has made this country great.’’

At least one major newspaper is applauding Hatch, saying he “is right”, calling his remarks “brave,” and praising the veteran lawmaker’s integrity, contrasting it with the opportunism and bigotry of numerous other public figures.

As a member of the Mormon faith, Hatch understands the harmful ways in which stereotypes and innuendo can target religions, and he is stepping forward in a way that fellow Mormons like shout-show host Glenn Beck, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and, to a lesser extent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have not.

Read the short but meaningful story at the web site of the Boston Globe.