During an annual interfaith breakfast at the New York Public Library Tuesday, New York City Democrat Mayor Eric Adams stood firm in his faith and rejected the separation of church and state.
"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 stated.
He explained that his administration's policies are guided by his religious beliefs.
"I can't separate my belief because I'm an elected official," Adams continued. "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 noted that a lack of faith could be linked to homelessness and increased crime rates, including domestic violence and shootings.
"When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools," Adams said.
The mayor insisted that parents have abandoned their roles and failed to instill "some level of faith and belief" in their children.
"We are destroying our next generation, destroying them," Adams explained. "And we say over and over again, 'We need to build a world that's better for our children.' No, we need to build children that's better for our world."
Adams called on religious leaders to communicate with one another and become "ambassadors for peace." He stated that it is a tragedy that New York City residents do not leave their neighborhoods and get to know people from different backgrounds.
"That is a Shakespearean tragedy and anti-Christopher Columbus theory, believing if you leave your intellectual thought process, you're going to fall off some type of globe or planet," the mayor stated.
"Today we proclaim that this city, New York City, is a place where the mayor of New York is a servant of God," Adams said, concluding his speech.
In response to Adams' comments, former vice president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State Naomi Pais stated on Twitter, "So much for blue-city mayors upholding a fundamental principle of American society."
The New York Civil Liberties Union tweeted, "In order for our government to truly represent us, it must not favor any belief over another, including non-belief."
NYCLU President Donna Lieberman accused Adams of needing "a refresher course on the First Amendment."
The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
However, the phrase "a wall of separation between Church and State" comes from Thomas Jefferson's 1802 Danbury Baptist letter, which explained that the First Amendment was enacted to prevent the government from encroaching upon Americans' religious liberties.
In the 1962 case Engel v. Vitale, the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in public schools, claiming that the First Amendment indicated a separation of church and state.
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