President Barack Obama's remarks seeming to support plans for a proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York have opened the door to nationwide debate on the issue.
Politicians of every stripe are taking sides, including one prominent Democrat who disagrees with the president.
In defending the president's stand supporting the right of Muslims to build the mosque, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., talked about his own upbringing as a "preacher's kid."
"I learned a lot of things in that little parsonage and one of those things was religious tolerance," Clyburn said.
"Are we a country of laws and principles?" asked Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind. "Or are we questioning who will be moved by the winds of emotion each and every time there are issues that come up to divert us from the true meaning and intent of the Founding Fathers?"
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., became the highest-ranking Democrat to break publicly with the president, saying the group in question has a right to build the mosque near Ground Zero, but it's not wise.
"The Constitution gives us freedom of religion," Reid said. "I think that it's very obvious that the mosque should be built someplace else."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sided with Muslims who want to build the Islamic Center.
"Muslims are as much a part of this city and our country as the people of any faith, and they are as welcome to worship in lower Manhattan as anyone else," Bloomberg said.
Several members of the American Legion in Indianapolis, Ind., feel differently.
"They have a right to build a mosque," member Ron Steele said. "I, however, think it's an insult to build it so close to the Ground Zero by the religious group that most of all of the terrorists who committed the 9/11(attacks) belonged to."
"It's just like a bar," member Steve Schachte said. "There's a board that says they can't build a bar within so many feet of a church. Why should they be able to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero when Iran was responsible for it, or Iraq?"
Top Republican strategist Karl Rove questions the motive behind the group that wants to build the mosque.
"It's like they're trying to score political points in an attempt to gloat, to have an Islamic center on the edge of Ground Zero to gloat," he said.
"They ought to be sensitive about it," he continued. "There are plenty of other places in New York farther from Ground Zero where this could comfortably be built."
Some Republicans have said the controversy could push more people to vote for their party in this November's elections.