FFRF condemns NY mayor’s unrelenting attacks on state/church separation

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is once again reminding New York City Mayor Eric Adams of his constitutional obligation to respect the principle of state/church separation.

On Father’s Day, June 18, Adams spoke at Lenox Road Baptist Church, where he was introduced as mayor, and used that religious podium to double down on attacking those who have urged him not to misuse his secular office to promote his religious beliefs and deride the First Amendment.

He explained that “God had spoken to his heart” and had told him that he would be mayor of New York:

Thirty-something years ago, I woke up out of my sleep in a cold sweat. God spoke to my heart and said, “You are going to be the mayor January 1, 2022.” And the message was clear. God stated, “You cannot be silent, you must tell everyone you know. … I would go around the city, pastor, and I would tell everybody “I’m gonna be mayor January 1, 2022.” People used to think I was on medication.

Adams concluded his remarks by complaining about negative press coverage regarding previous statements indicating his intention to infuse his religious beliefs with his position as mayor. He compared himself to Denzel Washington’s character in the 1989 Civil War film “Glory,” when he is set to be whipped. He alluded to scars from previous whippings as showing how negative press cannot hurt or deter him from his “godly mission.”

“Mayor Adams, your continued promotion of your personal religious beliefs and denigration of secularism is distasteful and appalling,” FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker write.

This is not the first time the state/church watchdog has had to remind Adams of his constitutional duty. In March, FFRF called out comments at an interfaith prayer breakfast, where Adams claimed that, as mayor of New York, he was a “servant of God,” and insisted that by bringing prayer back into schools, gun violence would end. FFRF emphasized that school shootings require real-world solutions, not supernatural intervention.

The continued use of the perks of the public office to promote his personal religious beliefs is an abuse of public trust as mayor of America’s largest city. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages.

FFRF concludes by again reminding Adams that as mayor, his duty is to support the U.S. Constitution, including the Establishment Clause separating religion from government, and to protect the rights of conscience of all New York residents regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs.

“Mayor Adams’ hostility toward the Establishment Clause is deeply disturbing and troubling,” FFRF writes. “The mayor of New York is not chosen by God, but by We the People.”

You can read FFRF’s letter here.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 largely nonreligious members across the country, including more than 2,000 members in the state of New York. FFRF works to defend the constitutional separation between state and church and to educate about nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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