Eric Adams Proves That Our Prayers For A Normal NYC Mayor Remain Unanswered
Tuesday, New York Mayor Eric Adams hosted the annual interfaith breakfast. It was the usual pro-religious spectacle that both Republicans and Democrats endorse as proof they aren't heathens, which is apparently important to voters. Dana Rubinstein wrote for the New York Times, "A choir sang a rousing rendition of 'My Country ’Tis of Thee.' A rabbi spoke. So did Buddhist and Muslim leaders.
"And then things started to get surreal."
Ingrid Lewis-Martin, a Christian chaplain and one of Adams's closest advisers, took the stage and declared, "We have an administration that doesn’t believe in [separation of church and state]. ... [The mayor] is definitely one of the chosen."
Sure, New York City voters chose the mayor through a somewhat complicated ranked-choice voting process, but ... oh, wait, Lewis-Martin means "one of the chosen" like Adams personally auditioned for God and got the part.
Publicly announcing that the Adams administration doesn't respect the Bill of Rights is pretty damn surreal. But a canny politician could've spun this as just an overly zealous introduction. Lewis-Martin is a chaplain, not the actual mayor.
However, Adams somehow made it worse, which is true to form.
\u201cBetween Scott and Eric I'm starting to feel like there are no good Adamses\u201d— Lux \u201cAsk Me About Self-Managed Abortion\u201d Alptraum (@Lux \u201cAsk Me About Self-Managed Abortion\u201d Alptraum) 1677630499
“Ingrid was so right,” Adams said, which apparently even shocked the religious leaders assembled for the breakfast at the New York Public Library. “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.”
Adams sounded like my childhood pastor from South Carolina, who drank sweet ice tea by the gallon until he died from diabetes-related complications. (There was probably a connection.) Of course, Adams is the mayor of New York City, not a Southern Baptist preacher.
“I can’t separate my belief because I’m an elected official,” he insisted. Uh, you probably should at least try, sir.
He continued on with the idea that God, like an all-powerful Leo McGarry, was responsible for his political rise. He claimed he implements his policies, such as cracking down on the homeless, with a "godlike approach."
“I strongly believe in all of my heart, 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,’” Adams said, sounding perfectly sane and rational. “He could have made me the mayor of Topeka, Kan.”
Dana Rubinstein's final line in the Times article was "The mayor of Topeka could not be reached for immediate comment." She's my new favorite person.
\u201c\u201cWhen we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.\u201d\n\n\u2014 NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) speaking at the New York Public Library interfaith breakfast\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1677603573
Adams claimed — like your Nana — that removing prayer from schools, which never happened, is somehow responsible for all the school shootings. The still-legitimate Supreme Court banned mandated (or coerced) prayer in public schools in a 1962 decision. Adams was two years old at the time, so it's not like he has fully formed Mayberry memories of kids laying down their easily obtained AR-15s and joining their teachers in prayer.
Rabbi Abby Stein, who attended the breakfast, said it was "unhinged and dangerous" for Adams to reject the separation of church and state.
“I respect people talking about using their faith to help people,” she said. “This wasn’t that.”
No, it wasn't.
Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said about the mayor's remarks, “It is odd that Mayor Adams would need a refresher on the First Amendment. After all, he has sworn to uphold the Constitution more than once, first as a police officer [LOL! — SER], later as a state representative, and then last year upon becoming mayor. The very opening passage of the Bill of Rights makes clear that church and state must be separate.”
Anyway, Adams has backed away from Tuesday's goofiness or, more precisely, he's pretending it never happened. His spokesperson, Fabien Levy, said in a mass intelligence-insulting statement:
The policies we make as an administration are rooted in the mayor’s belief in the creator ... 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 immediately attempted to hijack the narrative in an effort to misrepresent the mayor’s comments.
Adams's speech wasn't Ulysses. It was pretty straightforward. He could've just admitted he screwed up and apologized. That might've been the more "Godlike approach."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."