'I walk with God': Mayor Adams dismisses separation of church and state
NEW YORK - Mayor Eric Adams, speaking at an Interfaith Breakfast at the New York Public Library Tuesday, said that he doesn’t believe church and state can be separated since he is an elected official with faith.
"Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state," Mayor Adams said. "State is the body, church is the heart. If you take the heart out of the body, the body dies."
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Adams has been open about his Christian faith in the past and last February said that he believed God told him to become the mayor. But his comments on Tuesday seemed to go a bit further.
"I can't separate my belief, because I'm an elected official," Adams said. "When I walk, I walk with God, when I talk, I talk with God."
Adams seemingly even went as far as to blame everything from crime rates to low reading skills on the lack of faith in schools.
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"When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools," Adams said.
This is not the first time that Adams has mixed his religion with his public job as mayor. Last week, when leaving another faith event, Adams said God chose him to be mayor, something his chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin repeated on Tuesday.
"It’s said that one has to separate church from state, but we have an administration that doesn't believe in that," Lewis-Martin said. "We have a mayor, who you will hear from shortly, who is definitely one of the chosen."
The Mayor received wide-ranging criticism for his comments.
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Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said that Adams needs a refresher of the First Amendment and that one faith can’t be favored over another, including non-belief.
"The Mayor's comments today reflect a fundamental, either lack of understanding or disdain for the law of land," Lieberman said. "When it comes to religion, government has to be an equal opportunity nonparticipant, it can't have favorites."
Baptist Minister Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, who is president and CEO of Interfaith Alliance, also pushed back on the Mayor’s comments saying, "Mayor Eric Adams' 'God talk' makes me nervous he is anointing himself with God’s particular favor, which introduces a dangerous spiritual zero-sum game into the politics of the city. Every person has the right to religious freedom, including the mayor. However, I encourage the mayor to stop imagining himself as the servant of God and instead take seriously his obligation to serve the diverse people of New York - people of all faiths and no faith alike."
Adams at one point, also held up a sponge to talk about the need to ring out despair in order to be saturated with God’s blessings.
Adams ended his speech with, "New York City is a place where the mayor of New York is a servant of God."
A spokesperson for the Mayor sent a statement for clarification saying, "As the mayor said before an interfaith group comprised of hundreds of representatives from a multitude of religions, you can’t remove the heart from the body. The policies we make as an administration are rooted in the mayor’s belief in the creator. The mayor personally believes all of our faiths would ensure we are humane to one another. While everyone in the room immediately understood what the mayor meant, it’s unfortunate that some have attempted to hijack the narrative in an effort to misrepresent the mayor’s comments."