The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging New York City Mayor Eric Adams not only to withdraw three judgmental appointees but to cancel plans to create a faith-based office altogether.
Adams is facing criticism from the LGBTQ community for planning to fill his newly created Faith-Based and Community partnership office and another mayoral position with individuals who have extreme homophobic views.
Fernando Cabrera, reportedly appointed as senior adviser for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, notoriously supported the Ugandan government’s bans on gay marriage and abortion in 2014. Pastor Erick Salgado, appointed as assistant commissioner for external affairs in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, has previously termed homosexuality a “mortal sin.” And Pastor Gilford Monrose has been selected to run the faith-based office because Adams says he has a “talent for building bridges between diverse communities” and yet he has compared the gay “lifestyle” to smokers, supported discrimination against LGBTQ in adoption and foster care and repeatedly opposed marriage equality.
“We share the outrage of the LGBTQ community, who feel understandably betrayed that you would make these appointments,” write FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor to Mayor Adams. “We also must emphasize your apparent betrayal to the secular community by creating a religious office within your administration.”
They note that this is an office modeled after those in the White House and at the cabinet level created by President George W. Bush, which FFRF sued over. While the constitutionality of the offices was ultimately never ruled on, FFRF calls them unconstitutional and notes they have been abused to reward churches that support political candidates and conflict with “our country’s proud secular heritage.” Setting up such an office sends a message to nonreligious New Yorkers that they are not favored members of the community, and that faith leaders in the city have outsized influence.
“Creating a faith-based office and packing it with anti-LGBTQ individuals is alarming and unacceptable,” FFRF concludes.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization working to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It represents 36,000 members across the country, including almost 2,000 members in the state of New York.