NYC Mayor Adams Dismisses Need to Separate Church and State, Declares Himself ‘a Servant of God’

‘When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools’


At the annual interfaith breakfast Mayor Adams on Tuesday dismissed the notion that there should be a separation between church and state in American society, drawing ire from fellow Democrats and civil rights advocates who contended his line of argument runs counter to deep-rooted U.S. values.

Adams, who’s Christian, has over the course of his political career spoken extensively about how important faith is in civic life and said as recently as last February that “God” told him to become mayor.

Adams said once he took the stage. “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state. State is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies. I can’t separate my beliefs because I’m an elected official.” He added: “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.”


At another point, Mr. Adams seemed to suggest that it was a mistake for the Supreme Court to ban mandated prayer in public schools, as it did in 1962. “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools,” he said.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, described herself on Tuesday afternoon as “speechless” upon hearing the mayor’s remarks.

“The mayor is entitled to his own religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, and, the N.Y.C.L.U. would defend his right to hold those beliefs,” Ms. Lieberman said. “But, as mayor, he’s bound to uphold the Constitution, which provides for separation of church and state. And the separation of church and state is essential for the mayor and everyone else in the country to be able to freely exercise their own religious or nonreligious values.”


The Founding Fathers quite famously rejected the idea of religion in government, firmly establishing a secular framework instead. Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “a wall of separation between Church & State” in an 1802 letter that became enormously influential on interpretations of the First Amendment.



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