Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (R-Utah) fired back at former White House strategist Stephen Bannon on Wednesday for launching an attack against Mitt Romney that included accusing the former presidential candidate of invoking his Mormon faith to avoid military service.

"Steve Bannon's attacks on Governor Romney and his service are disappointing and unjustified," Hatch said in a statement Wednesday.

"Mitt is a close personal friend, an honest leader, a great American, and someone who has sought every opportunity possible to serve our country," he continued.

"I also resent anyone attacking any persons religious views, but particularly our own Christian LDS faith and the selfless service of missionary work."

Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, said at a Tuesday rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore that Romney "hid behind his faith" to avoid military service during the Vietnam War.

The former Trump strategist launched the attack after Romney criticized Moore, who has faced allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women. Romney said Moore serving in the Senate would be a "stain on the GOP and on the nation."


"You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam," Bannon said of Romney.

Mormon men and women typically take a mission trip in their early twenties to a foreign country, a tradition held as a rite of passage within the church. Romney received a missionary deferment from the Vietnam War draft in the 1960s.

Hatch, the longest-serving senator in Utah history, said he would be "more than happy" to explain Mormonism to Bannon.

"I've got a copy of the Book of Mormon with his name on it," he said.

Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has reportedly been eyeing Hatch's Senate seat for 2018 should the 83-year-old lawmaker retire.