New York City Mayor Eric Adams maintained Sunday that he cannot separate his Christian faith from who he is as a person nearly a week after making waves with a similar statement in which he declared it was a mistake to remove prayer from public schools.
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Dana Bash, Adams was asked to clarify what he meant when he told a group of New York City faith leaders at his administration’s annual interfaith breakfast: “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 belief because I'm an elected official.”
Adams, who said he implements government polices with a “godlike approach,” was also asked by Bash if he fundamentally believes in the separation of church and state from a governing standpoint.
He explained that while he believes religion should not interfere with government and vice versa, he doesn’t believe individuals can separate their faith from who they are.
“What I believe is that you cannot separate your faith. Government should not interfere with religion, and religion should not interfere with government. But I believe my faith pushes me forward on how I govern and the things that I do,” Adams said.
When pressed further by Bash, who noted that “one of the fundamentals of the Constitution is a separation of church and state when it comes to governing,” Adams said that he isn’t advocating a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“This is what I'm saying. I want to be very clear on this so this won't be distorted,” he said.
“Government should not interfere with religion; religion should not interfere with government. That can't happen and it should never happen. But my faith is how I carry out the practices that I do and the policy, such as helping people who are homeless, such as making sure that we show compassion in what we do in our city,” he explained. “Government should never be in religion; religion should never be in government. And I hope I'm very clear on that.”
On Feb. 28, just over a year after creating his Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, Adams urged faith leaders at his annual interfaith breakfast to boldly exercise their faith in the public square and said it was a mistake for the U.S. Supreme Court to ban school-sponsored prayer in public schools.
He argued that many social ills challenging communities today could be alleviated if people adopted a more faith-filled lifestyle.
“We would not have a crisis of domestic violence. ... When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools. So, the reflection point of today, when we do an analysis of these annual coming-together, is to state, ‘Are we leaving our best fight in the gym?” he asked. “Are we finding ways to really take what we took in the gym and bring it into the real fight?’”
He further insisted that pushing faith out of the education system has negatively impacted children and bringing faith back to classrooms can help.
“We need to build children, that's better for our world. And we have to be honest about that,” Adams said.
“And it means instilling in them some level of faith and belief. … 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 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,” he added. “That's who I am. And I was that when I was that third grader, and I'm going to be that when I leave government. I am still a child of God and will always be a child of God, and I won't apologize about being a child of God. It is not going to happen.”