First Amendment zealots who rushed out of the gate to condemn Mayor Eric Adams’ comments about his religious roots at a recent interfaith breakfast should get a grip.

He did not, as his critics and much of the media characterized it, “dismiss” the idea of separating church and state. To be sure, he certainly challenged the notion put forth over the years by his critics that religion must be accorded pariah-like status – that religion must always be viewed as an overarching disqualifier – but that is a far cry from rejecting the separation of church and state as a tenet of American society.


He said, “I can’t separate my belief because I’m an elected official.” He suggested that his election was divinely ordained; and that when he develops or implements policies, he does so in a “godlike approach.” He also said, “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.” In all of these statements, he was not declaring that he intended to defy the Supreme Court and attempt to reinstitute these practices. Looking at the statements in context, it is our view that he delivered them in the midst of discussing values, traditions, and social norms that he was exposed to as a child of the church.

Folks with a jaundiced perspective about the place of religion in society, however, chose to see sinister in the Mayor’s remarks.

Typical was the comment of Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She told the New York Times that when she heard the mayor’s remarks she was “speechless”:

“The mayor is entitled to his own religious beliefs or non-beliefs, and the NYCLU would defend his right to hold those beliefs. But as mayor, he’s bound to uphold the Constitution, which provides for separation of church and state. And the separation of church and state is essential for the mayor and everyone else in the country to be able to freely exercise their own religious or nonreligious values.”

But what did the mayor say that signaled that he was poised to turn New York city into a theocracy, rather than just sharing his own personal beliefs?

In fairness, we can understand the shrillness of his ardent separationist critics. For decades, that crowd had enjoyed a virtual monopoly on church-state relations and posited an antiseptic divide. In the last few years, however, their wooden approach has been holding less and less sway: in a series of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, rulings held that automatic exclusion of religion from general programs and policies is, in fact, discriminatory and inconsistent with the First Amendment.

Mayor Adams’ presentation posed no challenge to his critics and the hullabaloo that ensued was a tempest in a teapot. One hopes, however, that many will now come to better appreciate that the anti religious animus of the liberals is cancel culture on steroids.


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