New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday doubled down on his faith and how it influences his governing style.
Adams drew significant criticism from Democrats for comments he made at an interfaith breakfast last week when he seemingly dismissed the separation of church and state. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Adams clarified that he supported the concept but reaffirmed that his faith shapes his policies as mayor.
“[L]et’s be clear on something,” Adams said. “The last words I said after I was sworn in [were] ‘so help me God.’ On our dollar bill, we have ‘In God We Trust.’ Every president touched a religious book when they were sworn in, except for three.”
“Faith is who I am,” Adams continued. “And anyone who takes those words as stated that I’m going to try to compel people to follow my religion, no. I’m a child of God. I believe that wholly. I’m going to follow the law, I’m not going to compel people who believe in whatever faith it could be. If you’re in a synagogue, a Baptist church, a Buddhist temple, I’m in all of them. And that’s what was in my service.”
However, Adams later clarified that he still supported church-state separation.
“I want to be very clear on this, so it won’t be distorted. Government should not interfere with religion. Religion should not interfere with government,” he said. “That can’t happen. And it should never happen. But my faith is how I carry out the practices that I do and the policies, such as helping people who are homeless, such as making sure that we show compassion in what we do in our city.”
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams explains a controversial remark he made at an interfaith breakfast. @CNNSotu #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/KtMCSb6Dm4
— CNN (@CNN) March 5, 2023
Adams turned heads last Tuesday when he spoke about the importance of instilling faith in American children. During his remarks, he echoed the words of his chaplain, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, who said the mayor’s office did not believe in the separation of church and state.
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state,” said Adams. “State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies. 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 Godlike approach to them. That’s who I am.”
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NYC Mayor Eric Adams: “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” pic.twitter.com/nBx6mEFlBT
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) March 1, 2023
The assertions by Adams sparked outrage from some, including the ACLU’s New York state affiliate, NYCLU.
“We are a nation and a city of many faiths and no faith,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “In order for our government to truly represent us, it must not favor any belief over another, including non-belief.”
According to CNN’s Dana Bash, one rabbi in attendance called the remarks “dangerous.”
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.
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