The separation between church and state is one of the foundational ideals of American democracy. The idea that one’s religion (if they have one) is divided from the government was and still is earth-shattering.
Last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams made the following statement about this distance.
“Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state. State is the body; church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies,” he told religious leaders at the event held at the main branch of the New York Public Library.
“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,” he said, later adding that “when we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.”
I get it, his audience was clergy from various faith groups. While he is entitled to pray to whatever higher entity he prays to, he does not have the right to force his beliefs on others.
What is more concerning was the proposition that had there been prayers in school, a litany of societal issues would be non-existent. Specifically, mass shootings that take place within educational settings. Two points stick out. The first is whose prayers are said if they are said at all? Given the diversity in this city, the mere thought of this question is contentious from the start. The second is that the only way to prevent school shootings is to enact sensible and national gun control laws.
Every politician puts their foot in their mouth at least once in a while. I guess this is Mayor Adam’s time.