New York City Mayor Eric Adams lamented a lack of prayer in schools while decrying the scourge of gun violence on Tuesday.
During remarks at an interfaith breakfast, Adams spoke about the intersection of faith and realizing one’s full potential. He said people going to places of worship, regardless of religion, can help alleviate the city’s various problems, such as homelessness and domestic violence.
“When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools,” he added to a round of applause.
Later in his speech, Adams echoed his chief adviser and Christian chaplain, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, who delivered remarks before him at the event and said the mayor’s administration “doesn’t believe” in the separation of church and state, according to POLITICO.
“When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.”
— NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) speaking at the New York Public Library interfaith breakfast pic.twitter.com/2GkxKCB5bX
— The Recount (@therecount) February 28, 2023
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state,” Adams said. “State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.”
The assertions by Adams sparked outrage from some, including from the ACLU of New York.
“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.”
Others voiced agreement with Adams. “Strange to agree with Mayor Adams, but here we are,” tweeted Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
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A spokesperson for Adams dismissed the notion that the mayor was promoting anything improper.
“The policies we make as an administration are rooted in the mayor’s belief in the creator. The mayor personally believes all of our faiths would ensure we are humane to one another,” said Fabien Levy, the mayor’s press secretary, according to CBS News. “While everyone in the room immediately understood what the mayor meant, it’s unfortunate that some have attempted to hijack the narrative in an effort to misrepresent the mayor’s comments.”