New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday morning at the annual Interfaith Breakfast in Manhattan that when the U.S. took prayer out of public schools, guns replaced them.
“When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools,” said Adams.
The mayor was discussing the role that religious people could play in reducing societal problems.
“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 said.
The Supreme Court banned school-imposed prayers in the 1962 Engel v. Vitale ruling.
Adams, a Christian, has also championed stronger law enforcement and gun safety measures to curtail gun violence.
His remarks were met with quick backlash, particularly from progressive circles.
“We are a nation and a city of many faiths and no faith. In order for our government to truly represent us, it must not favor any belief over another, including non-belief,” said Donna Lieberman, who is the leader of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
In response to the backlash, Adams’ spokesperson argued that the mayor “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,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
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