New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) casually dismissed one of the nation’s founding principles Tuesday morning, telling those gathered for his annual interfaith breakfast that he “can’t separate” his Christian beliefs from his public duties.
“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,” Adams said at the main branch of the New York Public Library, where religious leaders from around the city were seated.
“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,” he said.
“I … will always be a child of God, and I won’t apologize about being a child of God,” he added.
The comments elicited a smattering of applause.
At another point in his 25-minute speech, which at times resembled a sermon, Adams asserted that “when we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.”
At another, he took out a yellow sponge from behind his podium to use as a metaphor for people ingesting bad news during the course of everyday life. In an apparent reference to the journalism industry concentrated in New York City, Adams said there were “too many people who are professionals at bringing bad news because there’s something exciting about bringing bad news to people.”
As an elected official, Adams was required to swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, in addition to New York state laws, when he took his oath of office in January 2022.
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.