The first statement is obviously in regards to the Islamic community center planned by Cordoba Initiative. The second statement will probably only ring a bell with Boston metro residents, Mormons, and perhaps a few diligent readers of this site.
When Senator Kennedy passed last year there was an odd story that popped up and got some attention on this site. It stemmed from a statement Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) made at the memorial service.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 8/28/2009
"There was another time, when the Mormon Church was nearing completion of its temple here in Boston, Belmont, I think. I was approached by several people working in the temple and informed that the city would not allow a spire to be placed on the top of the temple with an angel on top, as is customary on Mormon temples. I immediately called Ted and asked for help. Not long after that conversation, he called me back and said, quote, 'All of Western Massachusetts will see the angel Gabriel on the top of the Mormon Temple'."
Despite this boast, it's not very likely that Teddy pulled strings to get the spire allowed. That only happened after a long and acrimonious struggle with local residents (over not just the spire but the building itself) that went all the way to the State Supreme Court. Some observers even suggested that religious bigotry played a role in the opposition. In any case Ted Kennedy did, at a minimum, come out publicly in support of the Mormons, and of religious freedom, after receiving a VIP tour of the temple from guess who.
Boston Globe (AP), 9/12/2000
"Following Tour with Romney, Kennedy Endorses Temple Steeple"
Former Massachusetts senatorial candidate and LDS Church member Mitt Romney took his 1994 rival, US Senator Edward Kennedy, on a tour of the LDS Church's new Boston Temple on Friday, and following the tour Kennedy endorsed the LDS Church's plan for a steeple on the building. "I think if other churches are going to have their expressions in terms of spires this one should. Fair is fair," Kennedy said.
When Romney first arrived at Harvard back in 1971 the closest place to perform Mormon temple rites (something members are expected to do on a semi-regular basis) was clear back in Utah. Then in 1974 a temple was opened in Washington DC, an 8 hour drive away and only the 16th temple built since the 1847 exodus to Utah. This would remain the nearest temple to the Romneys until the dedication of the Boston temple in Belmont in 2000, which marked the 100th temple built. The rapid increase in temple building in the late 20th century was a source of great pride and excitement to Mormons everywhere, and especially outside of Utah.
But Romney had an even more particular interest in the Boston temple. For starters, not only would there at last be a temple which did not require a long drive and overnight stay, but the new temple would be built literally just down the street from his longtime family residence in Belmont. Whatismore, the temple was built on excess land from the church's Belmont chapel lot. Romney led the Belmont congregation as Bishop from 1984 to 1986 and oversaw the construction of the chapel. Romney then presided over all Boston area congregations as Stake President from 1986 to 1994 when he stepped down for his high profile run for Senate. Construction plans for the Boston temple were announced the following year. Knowing how the church hierarchy tends to operate, it's perfectly likely that Romney himself had some influence in the selection of the Belmont temple site, given his family connections, and his long service in local leadership in Boston.
Google Maps (click to enlarge)
Although Romney kept a low profile during the protracted legal battle over the construction of the Mormon temple in Belmont, he did play an important behind-the-scenes role. Would it be too much of a stretch to say that Mitt Romney was the Faisal Abdul Rauf of the venture?
Washington Post, 12/15/2007
"In Mitt Romney's Neighborhood, A Mormon Temple Casts a Shadow"
In the spring of 1996, Romney and his wife, Ann, hosted a series of get-togethers with neighbors where both the architect and landscape architect answered questions.
"We had a steering committee and he would attend the meetings," Christensen says. "At one meeting he said his very participation might be a lightning rod for additional controversy since he had run against Ted Kennedy. He was there and would give us advice but did not take a public role."
In conclusion I would like to affirm that, like nearly all Americans, I hold my 1st amendment religious liberty precious. As a descendant of Mormon pioneers who were kicked out of Missouri and Illinois and had to abandon their newly completed temple at Nauvoo, you might say I get "visibly enraged" whenever I hear of anyone trying to limit a minority sect's enjoyment of this liberty, trying to tell them where they are and are not welcome to build houses of worship. I guess the difference between me and Mitt Romney is, I don't make a special exception for Muslims.