Stop the presses: The mayor of New York City has come out in support of faith in public life.
At a February 28 interfaith breakfast, Mayor Eric Adams asserted that “‘when we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools.’” The Mayor added, “‘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.’” The Mayor also asserted that both the church and the state play important and necessary roles in society.
At one time, state-sponsored prayer took place in public schools in the United States. In the 1962 case of Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that such prayers violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The case was brought by Long Island parents who objected to students voluntarily participating in the following teacher-led prayer (which had been recommended by the New York Board of Regents): “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms does not often agree with Mayor Adams. While the Mayor has been a voice of reason within the Democratic Party on criminal justice issues, and while he has demonstrated a willingness to hire Christians within his administration, he is generally liberal on policy and is a staunch supporter of abortion. However, we appreciate his courageous defense of the centrality of prayer and faith. While public school-sponsored prayer is not an option in the year 2023, we encourage Christian students who attend New York City’s public schools to act on the Mayor’s words by forming Bible clubs and gathering for student-led prayer in their schools. We also respectfully encourage elected officials to walk closely with the Lord and to seek His wisdom as they conduct the affairs of government.