New York City’s Mayor Adams Responds to Critics of His Faith-Based Comments
‘Our challenge is faith. People have lost their faith,’ he said March 19.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday responded to critics of his recent statements on faith and spirituality.
In a March 19 appearance on MSNBC’s Inside With Jen Psaki, when questioned about those who “shorthand” what he has said about religion, Adams responded: “You can allow the loudest to get in the way, and all of a sudden you’re responding to the loudest. So, if people who took my innocent words of saying spirituality is crucial, then let them be.”
Adams, a Democrat and former police officer who has been in office a little more than a year, in recent weeks has raised eyebrows by talking about God, prayer and his ideas against the separation of church and state.
In the interview with Psaki, Adams said he is concerned about America and that the root of the country’s problems is a failure to embrace spirituality. He likened the current state of affairs in the United States to a frog placed in cool water.
“If you place a frog in hot water, it jumps out right away,” he said. “If you place it in cool water, turn up the temperature, it will stay there and boil itself to death. I think that our country, we are boiling ourselves to death, and that the root of that is our failure to embrace our spirituality.”
Adams’ comparison of the country to a frog in boiling water repeated comments he made at a mental health faith-based summit March 16 at Columbia University Teachers College. The event was co-sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, created by Adams in February 2022.
“People wonder why I lean into my faith so much. If you only know how broken I have been as a child, and I am just a pure miracle of God. And every day, just to be able to just rejoice in the fullness of [the fact that] you can take a broken child and turn him into the mayor of the city of New York: God is real. God is real,” he told the summit, to applause from the crowd.
He went on to give his opinions on the state of society today.
“Our babies are waking up every day in the morning, on their way to school, stopping into stores and bodegas, buying gummy bears and Skittles laced with cannabis and sitting inside the classroom,” he said.
“People ask me over and over again, ‘Why do you keep saying it’s time to pray; it’s time to pray?’ We have moved our faith-based leaders outside of what we should be doing together,“ he said. ”We must introduce faith and wellness back into our families. I’m baffled that you can talk about cannabis in schools but not faith.”
Adams then said the city’s Department of Education would roll out “mindfulness,” “breathing exercises” and “internal care” for schoolchildren.
“How do we take a city that is the center of the power of America and turn it into a city, when you enter it, everyone sees faith and sees God?” Adams asked. “Our challenge is not economics. Our challenge is not finance. Our challenge is faith. People have lost their faith.”
At an interfaith breakfast on Feb. 28, Adams also made strong statements about the separation of church and state.
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state,” he said. “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. That’s who I am.”
New York archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan on March 1 praised Adams’ comments about church and state. “Bravo, Mayor Adams. Bravo! Glad you said it,” Cardinal Dolan said on WCBS 880 news radio.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of NYCLU (ACLU of New York), said the mayor’s comments “were playing with fire.”
“Adams’ team is now claiming that those New Yorkers expressing concern over his comments are distorting his meaning — that he was making a point about what animates his leadership,” she wrote on the NYCLU website March 2. “But, without even considering what goes on in theocracies around the world, our city’s history alone shows why Adams is playing a dangerous game by casually dismissing the well-established partition between religion and public policy.”
Adams, who identifies as a Christian, was raised in the Church of Christ but now attends mostly nondenominational services, Politico reported.
In January, Adams introduced the New York City’s Women’s Health Agenda, which includes “expanding access to medication abortion at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Clinics.”
The city said that and other initiatives “build off programs and services launched during Mayor Adams’ first year in office,” such as “a first-of-its-kind Abortion Access Hub that confidentially refers callers from across the country to abortion care providers in New York City, as well as connections to additional financial support, transportation, and lodging.”