(Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
NEW YORK – Bill de Blasio, who is celebrating his victory in the New York mayoral elections, denied rumors earlier on Tuesday that he is an atheist who is anti-church, and told reporters that he is a spiritual person, even though he is not affiliated with a particular church.
"It's inappropriate and it's obviously, it's desperate. And whoever's doing this is trying to go and confuse people," De Blasio told reporters while in the Bronx, according to Politicker.
The Democrat won the mayoral race against Republican rival Joe Lhota by 73 to 24 percentage points, The Associated Press reported, meeting the expectations of many political analysts who predicted he would clinch a clear victory.
While de Blasio have proven popular among NY voters, some have posed questions of his religious beliefs. During the press event on Tuesday, he questioned whether the people responsible for the vans which blared messages that he is a "closet socialist," atheist and "anti-church" weren't paid by the Lhota campaign.
The Republican denied the suggestion, however, with a spokeswoman for his campaign saying the vans were never authorized.
"Joe denounced it and called on him to immediately stop," she said.
De Blasio sought to clarify his religious views following the incident, however, and said he was influenced by certain Christian theology but isn't affiliated to a church. He also added that his family has a Roman Catholic background, but he wasn't raised in the faith.
"It's obviously too big and too complicated a topic to try to talk about in a press conference," de Blasio said. "I'm not affiliated with any particular church. I do consider myself a spiritual person. As I've said many times, I was very influenced by liberation theology, by Christian liberation theology in the work I did after college and after graduate school."
During his victory speech on Tuesday night in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the Democrat promised to fight so that every New Yorker can have a better future.
"The stakes are so high for every New Yorker. And making sure no son or daughter of New York falls behind defines the very promise of our city," de Blasio said.
"To maintain that greatness and to ensure that our brightest days are ahead of us, we must commit ourselves to progressive ideas that will lift us all," he continued.
Lhota, on the other hand, told supporters in a Manhattan hotel that the campaign was "a good fight and it was a fight worth having."