Outcry after New York mayor dismisses separation of church and state
Eric Adams says ‘Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state’ at an interfaith breakfast
Civil rights groups blasted the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, after he said he believed God had made him mayor, appeared to support compulsory prayer in public schools and said: “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state.”
The head of the New York Civil Liberties Union led the condemnation.
“We are a nation and a city of many faiths and no faith,” Donna Lieberman said. “In order for our government to truly represent us, it must not favor any belief over another, including non-belief.”
The mayor made the controversial remarks at an interfaith breakfast at the New York Public Library on Tuesday.
Discussing his rise to power, the former police officer said he “strongly believe[d] in all my heart” that “God said, ‘I’m going to take the most broken person and I’m going to elevate him to the place of being the mayor of the most powerful city on the globe.’ He could have made me the mayor of Topeka, Kansas.”
The voters of New York City elected Adams as mayor in 2021, by a comfortable margin over the Republican Curtis Sliwa and after winning a crowded primary in the solidly Democratic city.
Adams’s time in office has proved controversial, from his approach to tackling crime, homelessness and sanitation, to allegations of nepotism, inconsistent veganism and bizarre remarks about how cheese is addictive.
At the prayer breakfast, Adams also said “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools” and “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state”.
He added: “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.”
Lieberman pointed to the US constitution.
“The very opening passage of the Bill of Rights makes clear that church and state must be separate,” she said.
“On matters of faith, the mayor is entitled to his own beliefs. On the constitution, he must uphold his oath.”
An Adams spokesperson said the mayor “personally believes all of our faiths would ensure we are humane to one another.
“While everyone in the room immediately understood what the mayor meant, it’s unfortunate that some have attempted to hijack the narrative in an effort to misrepresent the mayor’s comments.”
Rachel Laser, president and chief executive of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said: “It’s especially disheartening to hear the mayor of New York city promoting rightwing, Christian Nationalist talking points about prayer solving gun violence.
“Not only is it simply untrue that prayer alone will end school shootings, but his words ignore the fact that students are free to voluntarily pray in public schools because of the separation of church and state.”
"To Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others
A Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut
January 1, 1802
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.
President of the United States"
Too Smart To Be A Cop?
Forty-five-year-old Corrections Officer Robert Jordan believes he has been discriminated against after the city of New London, Conn., deemed him too smart to be an enforcement officer and denied him employment.
After he filed a lawsuit, the federal judge dismissed it, ruling that the police department's rejection of Jordan did not violate his rights. Jordan strongly disagrees and tells CBS This Morning's Thalia Assuras why.
"I was just taken aback," Jordan says. "Philosophically, I found it offensive to the entire profession of law enforcement. We all know talented, intelligent people that pursue successful careers in law enforcement."
In May 1997 Jordan filed a lawsuit against the New London Police Department for denying him the opportunity of becoming a law enforcement officer in the city where he was born and raised and which he still lives nearby.
"I just couldn't accept it. And I found out there is absolutely no evidence.Â…There is no connection between your basic intelligence and job satisfaction or longevity on the job," he says.
Jordan was deemed too smart for the police force because he received a high score on an intelligence test. Jordan, then 45, scored a 33, the equivalent of having an IQ of 125.
The average score nationally for police officers as well as for office workers, bank tellers and salespeople is 21 or 22, the equivalent of having an IQ of 104.
The city's rationale for the long-standing practice is that candidates who score too high could get bored with police work and quit after undergoing costly academy training.
Recently U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey ruled the New London Police Department's rejection of Jordan, because of his high IQ test score, was not in violation of his rights.
The court dismissed his lawsuit Aug. 31 and his attorney informed him on Wednesday.
Jordan feels the New London policy is ludicrous primarily because the city, through President Clinton's Fast Cop Program, received federal money to hire new recruits for the police academy, he says.
"I don't think it's setting really good seeds for the future of [its] public employees in the town, " he adds.
Jordan is not new to law enforcement. He had served as a part-time officer in Groton Long Point, Conn., in 1989.
In 1993 he became a seasonal officer for the Department of Environmental Protection, which takes care of law enforcement in state parks. He never took off a single shift, he says.
Jordan was never late and he felt he really did his job well. So when he decided to try for his local police force, he thought it could turn into something good, he says.
He is currently a corrections officer for the state of Connecticut, on the line, in direct contact with prisoners.
Jordan would love to appeal but the cost of litigation may be too much for him, although he has not ruled out the option, he says.