NYC Mayor Adams appears to reverse himself on controversial remarks criticizing separation of church and state
"Mayor Adams appeared to take back his recent controversial comments on religion Sunday, saying, “Government should not interfere with religion and religion should not interfere with government.”
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” he said religion guides his policymaking, but that he’d never “compel” others to follow his faith.
Last week, Adams gave remarks that dismissed the separation of church and state, a foundational value of U.S. government.
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state,” the mayor, who is Christian, said at an interfaith breakfast in Manhattan on Tuesday. “State is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies. I can’t separate my beliefs because I’m an elected official.”
The comments drew criticism from groups including the New York Civil Liberties Union, whose executive director, Donna Lieberman, said, “It is odd that Mayor Adams would need a refresher on the First Amendment.”
Asked Sunday whether he fundamentally believes in the separation of church and state “from a governing standpoint,” Adams said, “No.”
“What I believe is you cannot separate your faith — government should not interfere with religion and religion should not interfere with government,” he continued. “But I believe my faith pushes me forward on how I govern.”
Pressed on the matter, the mayor repeated that government should not “interfere” with religion.
Adams also discussed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s recent reelection loss.
Handling of rising crime by Lightfoot, a Democrat, was seen as a key issue in the contest.
Adams rejected the suggestion that her loss was a warning sign for Democratic mayors like him.
“I think it’s a warning sign for the country,” he said. “Eric Adams has been talking about public safety, not only on the campaign trail, but for the first year.
“I showed up at crime scenes,” the mayor continued. “If anything, it is really stating that this is what I’ve been talking about. America, we have to be safe.”