(NBC) - New York's Ground Zero has suddenly become ground zero for a national debate over religious tolerance.
Hundreds gathered to protest a planned mosque and Islamic cultural center just two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Supporters of the mosque staged a protest of their own.
President Obama's support took the fight to a new level.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press "... you have the President of the United States weighing in on this issue, actually on each side of the issue, within 24 hours, which has helped stimulate a great national debate."
A new Time Magazine poll shows 24 percent of Americans mistakenly believe the President is a Muslim.
In New York, protesters say this fight is about sensitivity and not religious tolerance. Some families of 9/11 victims see the mosque as a terrorist shrine. Supporters say the Mosque will be a symbol to the Muslim world, a symbol of American religious freedom.