Public Domain

NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) faced criticism after he hosted an interfaith prayer breakfast at a New York Public Library where he blasted the “separation of church and state” as the cause of societal problems. After acknowledging members of his team and other members of the audience, Adams called on members of various religious backgrounds, including Sikhs and Muslims, to attend their places of worship, “gyms,” as referred to by Adams, in order to enter the fight for New York City. “Because the fight is in the Bronx, where gun violence is moving to a level that is frightening for all of us. The fight is in Brooklyn… The fight is in our senior centers where our elders are dealing with the issues of loneliness… The fight is in our shelters where if you grow up in the shelter, you are less likely to graduate from high school… That is the fight… And I know so well about what it’s like to take your practice in the gym to actually implement it in your life,” he said.  

After warning that the youth are under attack, Adams went on to share the controversial statements that have earned him the ire of organizations like the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). “And it means instilling in them some level of faith and belief,” said Adams, adding, “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state. The state is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” Adams furthered his commitment to faith, saying, “I can’t separate my belief because I’m an elected official. When I walk, I walk with God. When I talk, I talk with God. When I put policies in place, I put them in with a God-like approach to them. That’s who I am. And I was that when I was that third-grader, and I’m going to be that when I leave government. I am still a child of God and will always be a child of God, and I won’t apologize about being a child of God. It is not going to happen.” Later in his speech, Adams appeared to criticize prayer being removed from schools, saying, “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.” After outlining the ways God can help the city face challenges like rising crime and homelessness, Adams ended his speech saying, “the mayor of New York is a servant of God.”

Adams’s denouncement of “separation of church and state” was met with quick condemnation, with the NYCLU stating, “Mayor Eric Adams’s outlandish comments during an interfaith breakfast Tuesday criticizing the nation’s constitutionally mandated separation of church and state were playing with fire.” The group’s statement reminded Adams of his Constitutional duty to represent all New Yorkers, even those with no faith. “On matters of faith, Mayor Adams is entitled to his own beliefs. On the Constitution, he must uphold his oath,” the statement ended. Adams pushed back against criticism during a Sunday interview, saying, “What I believe is you cannot separate your faith — government should not interfere with religion, and religion should not interfere with government. But I believe my faith pushes me forward on how I govern.”

Although he proclaimed faith in God, it is unclear what his specific religious beliefs are. In his speech, he referred to God as “she” and appeared to adhere to a pluralistic understanding of multiple faiths leading to Heaven. A New York Times article noted that he had previously said he attended a storefront church through his youth but does not subscribe to a particular branch of Christianity. The article also noted that “He talks about how New York City rests on rock formations, and he wears a bracelet of stone. He says he has collected Buddha statues, and he meditates in the morning.” Mayor Adams also warned that the recent election loss of Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot should be a warning sign to Democrats about the way Americans feel about rising crime. 

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad